Phillies take a chance with healing closer Drew Storen

ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 20: Drew Storen #31 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a fifth inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on August 20, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - AUGUST 20: Drew Storen #31 of the Cincinnati Reds throws a fifth inning pitch against the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park on August 20, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images) /
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After a respite, the Philadelphia Phillies have become active once again.

The Philadelphia Phillies have finally roused themselves from the sofa following the last burp of an inactive holiday season. They went out to the MLB scrap heap and found something intriguing enough to take home, as reported by tweet around mid-day Jan. 21 by Bob Nightengale: They picked up and dusted off Drew Storen, the former Nationals closer, signed him to a minor league contract, and invited him to the Phillies major-league spring camp.

Storen hasn’t really been a force in anyone’s bullpen since 2015, and has not been a truly dominant reliever since 2011, when he saved 43 games for the Nats at the age of 23 while booking a 2.75 ERA and 1.022 WHIP.

For the past few years, he has bounced around Toronto, Seattle, Cincinnati, and Kansas City’s Double-A team, where he saw his only action last season after a prolonged recovery from Tommy John surgery in 2017. Storen pitched in only nine games, surrendering nine hits and five walks in fifteen innings while compiling some other unpleasant, technical numbers.

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This sample size was quite small, obviously, and the first after recovery from significant surgery. Now, though, Storen is in the middle of another winter of recovery, and he is obviously working hard enough to convince the Phillies he should be paid to throw some baseballs at least in Florida.

The signing seems one the Phillies can’t really hurt themselves with. If he makes the Phillies MLB squad, he’ll make only $750,000. At one time, however, Storen was a mid-to-upper-90s fireballer, throwing two and four-seam fastballs, punctuated by a decent slider, particularly to right-handed hitters.

Prior to his surgery that high-level velocity was falling, and it is more than likely Storen, even if successful with the Phillies, will not be throwing quite a lot of 98-mph fastballs anymore. But who knows? Starting with Tommy John, of course, many pitchers have returned to full strength after Tommy John surgery, and Storen is still a relatively young man.

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Maybe he’s also been working on a new pitch for two full winters now.