Storen finding new method on the mound

Storen finding new method on the mound

CINCINNATI -- Reds reliever Drew Storen knows he can never throw a nine-inning perfect game. So he was more than satisfied with the feat he accomplished during the ninth inning of Tuesday's 9-3 win over the Orioles. Storen struck out all three batters using the minimum nine pitches, known as an immaculate inning.

"Honestly, after the second hitter I knew I had the possibility to do it," Storen said on Wednesday. "It's something that as a bullpen guy you kind of aim for."

The last time the feat happened in the Major Leagues was July 4, 2016, when the Pirates' Juan Nicasio did it against the Cardinals. Overall, the immaculate inning has been accomplished 82 times by 76 different pitchers. Storen was just the fourth Reds pitcher to ever do it and the first since Carlos Contreras on July 11, 2014, vs. Pittsburgh.

"I had no idea just how rare it was," Storen said. "You see guys get close to it before. To see that there's only three other guys to do it [for the Reds], that's extremely special. It's really hard to do, especially with how talented these hitters are. To go out there for one inning and be able to execute every time is pretty lucky."

Storen's immaculate inning

Storen, 29, entered Wednesday with a 1-0 record and a 1.23 ERA and 1.36 WHIP in seven appearances and 7 1/3 innings. He was signed as a free agent in January to a one-year, $3 million contract.

Not only has Storen been largely effective, he's done it without very much velocity. According to Statcast™, his four-seam fastball has averaged just over 90 mph after it was 92-93 mph last season with the Mariners and Blue Jays and 94-96 mph over the bulk of his career as a closer for the Nationals. His sinker is currently averaging 89 mph.

"I'm impressed because he manages three pitches," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "His history of competing in the late innings allows me to feel more comfortable utilizing Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen earlier in the game. We have somebody that has closed before, that's comfortable in that environment. It doesn't feel like we're exposing ourselves if we use those two in high-leverage situations earlier in the game, knowing I have Drew to throw the ninth if necessary."

Storen has developed a changeup and also throws a slider routinely.

"When I went to Seattle last year, I kind of sat down to see why I struggled in Toronto," Storen said. "Even when my velocity was higher, I would throw a lot of sliders. With my changeup coming into play the last couple years, that's been a successful pitch. To kind of pitch off of those and work in some sinkers and change the arm angle a little bit, anything to keep those guys off balance."

Storen wasn't concerned about lowered velocity this season.

"I kind of let that take care of itself," he said. "As long as I'm getting the movement and executing to spots, that's going to be more important than maybe a couple ticks."

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.