MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Storen unable to snap out of slump vs. Mets

Storen unable to snap out of slump vs. Mets

WASHINGTON -- Nationals reliever Drew Storen has been in a slump since Aug. 3, allowing 14 earned runs in his last 16 2/3 innings. His ERA jumped from 1.60 to 3.44.

But before his team played the Mets on Wednesday night, manager Matt Williams said he wasn't going to give up on Storen. It's not like Williams has a choice. The entire Nationals bullpen has been slumping lately. True to his word, Williams allowed Storen to pitch in Wednesday's 5-3 loss to the Mets. It was Storen who allowed the winning run to score.

With the score tied at 2 in the eighth inning, Curtis Granderson on first and Yoenis Cespedes, Williams decided to take Stephen Strasburg out of the game in favor of Storen. Cespedes, a .319 hitter against right-handers as opposed to .220 against lefties this year, then redirected a 1-0 pitch into the Mets' bullpen for his 32nd homer. Storen was hoping to get the ball down and away, but the pitch stayed up in the zone.

"Storen is in there to face the righty and get the righty out," Williams said. "It didn't happen. He hung a slider. [Cespedes] hit a homer."

Storen acknowledged his mistake but appreciated that Williams didn't give up on him a day after he played a role in the Mets coming back from a six-run deficit to win the game, 8-7. In that game, Storen and three other relievers -- Blake Treinen, Felipe Rivero and Jonathan Papelbon -- imploded by allowing seven runs in three innings.

"It was a tough outing yesterday and you want to get back out in there and get the job done," Storen said.

Pitching coach Steve McCatty believes Storen is healthy. He pointed out that his velocity hovers around 95 mph. However, Storen has pitched 18 games since Aug. 3. That's does not include the times he threw in the bullpen and didn't get in the game. McCatty believes Storen may be tired.

"We had some things where the starters didn't go long enough and we put a lot of stress on the bullpen," McCatty said. "When you are in this, you are going to get used a lot. They are all tired. Unfortunately, it happens. Everything gets magnified in a tight game."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.