A PITCHf/x Look at Drew Storen
Drew Storen is, for a variety of reasons, one of my favorite baseball players. I interviewed Storen this time last year, after which (because of which?) he was drafted with the tenth pick by the Washington Nationals due to his ability to throw 92 with movement.
Storen is one of the few players I've seen comment on the PITCHf/x sytem, telling Baseball Prospecus' interview laureate David Laurila,
"It’s awesome because you’re able to see how much movement you get on the ball, although it almost feels like you need a college degree to check out and understand some of the graphs they have on that Brooks site. But it’s interesting to see how much movement you get on your fastball, because you don’t really realize it. When you’re on the mound it’s kind of tough to see the movement that you have and a lot of times you have to rely on the catcher. "How was that?" or "What do you think?" It’s good to be able to see what the difference in movement is that you get on each pitch."
Storen fast-tracked his way to the big leagues, posting a gaudy 64-11 strikeout-to-walk ratio (his stated metric of choice) in the minors, and has made five appearances in middle relief for the Nats in the month of May, throwing nearly 100 pitches.
Storen has thrown four pitch types thus far: two types of fastballs and two types of breaking pitches.
Starting off with his fastball, Storen throws a four-seamer between 94 and 96 miles per hour and his two-seamer a tick slower. His four-seamer flies a little too true for my liking, averaging ten inches in vertical movement, which is a danger zone for a pitch of that velocity. Coming into last night, Storen had used his four-seamer 13 times, twelve to right-handed hitters, throwing only two of them in the strike zone. Last night, however, he threw the pitch eight times, inducing four swinging strikes. His two-seamer is a quality pitch, similar in velocity and movement to an A.J. Burnett two-seam offering. He throws both types of fastballs to any hitter, regardless of batter handedness. His choice of fastball depends on whether he wants to locate the pitch on his arm side or his glove side.
As for his off-speed pitches, he throws a true slider you often see from power righties coming in from the bullpen, and he also has mixed in a slurve a handful of times. Only two miles per hour slower than his slider, Storen's slurve achieves seven inches greater movement. Few pitchers (Burnett, Felix, Jepsen, Anderson, Lindstrom) can make a breaking ball drop seven inches at the type of velocity Storen throws his slurve, so I hope he mixes it in even more than he has.
Coming up as Stanford's closer, Storen supposedly threw about 92, getting by thanks to excellent command. He's continued to throw strikes as a pro, but from what he's shown in the Majors, his velocity was either being under-reported, or he's kicked it up a notch, and his breaking pitches also have shown good bite. I look forward to watching him close games for the Nationals in the near future.