Let's review shall we?
- Drew Storen took over the closer role in 2011. He was great according to the standard stats. He had a 2.75 ERA. He blew 5 saves and converted 43. He was great according to the fancy stats. He had a 1.022 WHIP, and 8.8 K/9, a 3.14 xFIP. He was probably a Top 10 closer.
- Last year after coming back from injury he pitched great again during the regular season. Both his WHIP and ERA dropped. He didn't give up a single home run.
- In the playoffs he appeared 3 times before the finale. He came into game 1 with a one run lead and got out the heart of the Cards order, Jay, Beltran, and Holliday, to save the game for the Nats. He came into game 4 tied and got out Freese, Descalso, walked Kozma, then got out Carpenter to hold the lead and set up Werth's dramatic home run. In those first 3 appearances he pitched 3 innings, gave up no hits, walked 1 and struck out 4. No one scored on him for a 0.00 ERA.
The problem is this unnecessary use in game 3 set-up a dangerous situation. What if Storen was needed in Game 4 and Game 5? They were scheduled to be played back to back, which would mean he'd pitch in 3 consecutive days. He'd done it before (twice since coming back from injury) but both times he had very easy 2nd outings. In the first case he was asked to get 2 outs against the Astros and did it in 8 pitches. In the second case he was asked to get 1 versus the Mets and did it in 3. His role was different now. Davey wasn't going to use him just to get 1 or 2 outs. What if he had to pitch a whole inning in his 2nd appearance and labored through it? Wouldn't that set-up a no-win situation where either a tired Storen would have to come in for the 3rd game in a row or you'd have to go with a arm you believed in less?
So getting TO Game 5 Davey blundered twice.
- He chose not use Storen in Game 2, prior to the off day, to keep his arm warm for the remainder of the series. If he had he probably wouldn't have felt compelled to use him in the Game 3 blowout. Maybe he'd have to use him in 3 straight games but it would be dictated by necessity.
- He did use him in game 3, even though he didn't need to which set-up a potential situation where a tired Storen could be necessary for a critical spot in Game 5. It wasn't the most likely scenario but it is what in fact transpired.
We've gone over this before but in Game 5 Davey made two critical errors.
- He pitched Edwin Jackson in relief for no goddamn reason. Both Mattheus and Garcia were available. Instead he went with his gut, used Edwin, who nearly blew the game right there. He got lucky, only gave up one run, but turned the line-up over so the big bats would get one more turn up.
- He kept Storen on the mound in a position that was ripe for failure. You could argue he should have used Garcia but even I think you have to try Storen there first. Sure he might have been (and was) tired but sometimes that works in your advantage. And it seemed like it would work. After a double came two outs, but then he walked Molina and set up a situation where Storen was about to face the same 3 guys - Freese, Descalso and Kozma for the third straight night. He was obviously was not the same pitcher, and had already thrown 16 pitches in the inning. It was time for him to sit down. But Davey chose to stick with him. And he walked Freese. So now he's thrown 22 pitches, he's just walked the bases loaded on back to back bases on balls. He's about to face ANOTHER guy that saw him in each of the last two nights. YOU HAVE TO TAKE HIM OUT. Yet Davey keeps him in and the guy gets a hard shot off of a diving Desmond that ties the game. THEN REPEAT EVERYTHING I JUST SAID EXCEPT ADD A HIT. And yet Davey keeps him in.
Look the point is this. Up until the very last game he pitched in 2012. Drew Storen was not a good relief pitcher, he was one of the better ones in the majors. Not Chapman, Kimbrel dominant but reliably very, very good. In the Cardinals series alone he had a big save and even a bigger hold. In the last game, he was set up to fail by a series of dumb decisions by Davey Johnson leading up to Game 5, leading up to the last inning of Game 5, and in the last inning of Game 5. If you told me Davey's ultimate goal was that he wanted Storen to lose this game, I could almost believe you. And eventually, after almost getting out of it, Storen did lose it.
I can't argue with picking up an arm like Soriano. They lost Burnett. Clippard labored at the end of last year. Bullpens are notoriously fickle. They needed another arm. They got a great one. But adding Soriano as the closer doesn't mean Storen should be disrespected. He's not a bad pitcher. He's a damn good one that had one bad game in the worst of circumstances and he's taking far too much heat from fans that should be directed at the manager.