Storen closes out Strasburg's first win
Nationals' other first-round pick on display in Minors
ALTOONA, Pa. -- Strasburg to Storen. It worked on Sunday afternoon for the Double-A Harrisburg Senators. The Nationals hope it's a combination that provides many wins at the Major League level over the years.
While most of the eyes of the baseball world were on Altoona because 2009 No. 1 overall pick Stephen Strasburg was making his professional debut, there definitely was some organizational pride when No. 10 overall pick Drew Storen came in to get the last four outs to nail down the save and Strasburg's first win.
"I don't want to be the guy blowing his first win," Storen said. "Hopefully it's a sign of things to come. Hopefully, it won't be the last time for me doing that."
It was Storen's first save of the season, though compared to Strasburg, he's a seasoned veteran. The Stanford product signed quickly following his selection and made it to this level -- Double-A -- last summer. He'd appeared in 28 games and saved 11 of them before the 2010 season began. That might not seem like a lot, but it did give him some experience into what life as a professional at this level is like. That's one of the things the Nationals want Strasburg to experience before they feel he'll be ready to hit the big leagues, and Storen is more than happy to pass along what little wisdom he has accrued on to his teammate.
"For him, it's not the big things," Storen said. "Between the lines, he's fine. It's the little things, it's the pitching every five days. It's the hotels, the bus rides, the food. There's little things I learned even in my short tenure last year.
"It's good to be in the journey together, going to the Fall League together. I try to help him out a little bit in the Minor League life, the little things. If I can help him out down here, I'd love to."
More than anything, the Nationals hope he can continue to help Strasburg out by finishing off his games. Adding in Storen's two scoreless outings this year, he now has 12 career saves and a 1.83 ERA. Over 39 1/3 innings, the future closer has allowed only 22 hits and struck out 52. Strasburg, for one, was glad to see him get the ball late in his first start.
"Give him the ball in the ninth inning and you know he's going to come out with guns blazing and he's going to get the job done," Strasburg said.
While Strasburg was easily hitting 98-99 mph on the radar gun, seemingly with little effort, Storen isn't too far behind him. But his 95-96 mph may not seem quite as graceful as Strasburg's. However, Nats fans don't have to worry about Storen overthrowing to try and keep up with his teammate. He's going to go all-out no matter who he relieves.
"I always try to muscle up regardless if he's throwing 110," Storen joked. "That's my approach. I attack hitters. I'm a pedal to the metal-type guy. Even if I'm grunting as loud as I can and throwing 10 mph slower than him, I'll still do it."
Storen expects Strasburg to keep doing it and for people to keep paying this much attention to him. As his warmup partner, Storen can't help but marvel about how easily Strasburg can crank up the heat. And that's why he doesn't see the spotlight dimming anytime soon.
"I see that every day when I play catch with him, and so does my palm," Storen said. "It's almost Nintendo-ish. It's nice and easy and explosive. That's why people come out to see him. Not a lot of people can do that.
"I expect it to be like this all the time. It's so exciting and fascinating to watch him pitch, there's going to be people coming from all over the country coming to see him pitch for a long time."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.