5 Reasons Drew Storen Will Win Back Nationals' Closer Job

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIJuly 5, 2012

5 Reasons Drew Storen Will Win Back Nationals' Closer Job

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    Drew Storen is all set to begin a rehab assignment on Thursday, the first step in his climb back from surgery that removed bone fragments from his right elbow.

    Storen will likely be ready to go when the Washington Nationals open up after the All-Star break. That comes at a good time for the team, as they are now 15 games over .500 and looking to strengthen the team for a playoff push.

    Tyler Clippard has served as the team's primary closer in his absence, and he has been very successful. He is 13-for-13 in save opportunities and has continued his dominant pitching of last season.

    With that being the case, manager Davey Johnson has said that Storen will likely ease his way back into the closer's role. With Clippard's dominance, that suggestion makes sense.

    Storen will win back the closer's job, though. It's only a matter of time.

Experience

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    Storen has more experience in the closer's role than anybody else on the Nationals' roster, and that bodes well for him moving forward.

    Sure, that experience is comprised of just one full season, but he was fantastic in that season. 

    In 2011, he saved 43 games while posting a 2.75 ERA over 75.1 innings.

    With a team looking to make its first postseason appearance in franchise history, it'd be wise to have the best guy for the job in his own role. Storen is the best closer on the team and therefore should be given the ball for the ninth inning.

    Many closers are day-and-night, having one great season and following it by a subpar one, but Storen's mentality and success last season suggest that he can keep it up.

    The experience he gained in the role last season will work wonders for him when he's ready to make his much-anticipated return.

Tyler Clippard Is a Better Setup Man

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    Don't get me wrong—Tyler Clippard has been phenomenal as the closer this season. As I mentioned earlier, he is 13-for-13 in save opportunities. What I didn't mention, though, was that he's only allowed one hit in those opportunities.

    That being said, he's best suited to be a setup man.

    Clippard is still getting over an early season slump of sorts. Maybe that's the reason for his inflated BB/9 ratio of 3.9, but either way, it's a vast drop off from last season's 2.6 ratio.

    His WHIP was also better last season—granted, it wasn't by much. His .838 WHIP last season was spectacular, and his .903 this season is almost equally as impressive.

    Still, it's not as good.

    Clippard is a setup man, and a darn good one. 

Defined Roles Are Better for the Club

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    Storen realizes that he has to work his way back into his role, but he undoubtedly wants some certainty regarding his role moving forward.

    It's unknown as to whether or not Storen will show signs of being disgruntled if Clippard remains the closer. Even if he doesn't, there's no doubting the fact that he wants to be the closer—period.

    With the Nationals in the thick of a playoff race, everybody should know, and be comfortable with, their roles with the team.

    If there is a debate over who should be the closer, one of the most important players in the postseason, it's hard to imagine the team going very far.

    A situation where Storen and Clippard share save opportunities could be a possibility, but that is something that would need to have its parameters established early on.

Bullpen Depth

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    Regardless of their roles, the bullpen will be much deeper when Storen returns.

    However, having Storen close makes the group even deeper. Having the optimal performers at each spot in the bullpen help to make it a more cohesive and dominant unit.

    The Nationals essentially have two very capable closers in their bullpen. Not many teams can say that. That kind of depth is essential in playing well late into the season.

    If handled the right way, Davey Johnson can turn this bullpen into one of the most dominant ones in the National League.

    After a week or so of setting up, Storen should be moved back into his rightful role with the team, thus increasing the depth of the bullpen.

Plenty of Insurance

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    Keeping Storen out of the closer's role upon his return is more of an issue of effectiveness rather than risking injury, but Johnson should be pleased with the fact that he has plenty of options to replace Storen if he falters in any way.

    Clippard is the obvious choice to take over, as his pitching lately has been a site to behold.

    Sean Burnett has closed a few games this season and veteran left-hander Mike Gonzalez also has experience closing.

    In a pinch, Johnson could go to Henry Rodriguez, though the initial Rodriguez-as-closer experiment failed miserably. He racked up nine saves when all was said and done, but his 5.06 ERA left much to be desired.

    Like I said in the previous slide, the Nationals have great depth in their bullpen. The addition of Storen only makes it deeper.