Examining Drew Storen's struggles plus Nationals-Padres notes

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Drew Storen’s last two outings have been, to be polite, forgettable.

The two innings ended a string of effective appearances for the one-time closer, accounting for seven hits, seven runs and one flummoxed manager.

Davey Johnson loves Storen’s stuff. He just isn’t a fan of how the pitcher is using it.

“He’s a smart kid,” Johnson said Friday of Storen, who attended Stanford. “You think he’d figure that out.”

‘That’ refers to what Johnson sees as the problem: Storen alternating between relying on blowing his upper-90s fastball past hitters or, more recently, trying to trick them with off-speed pitches. Johnson expressed bafflement Storen didn’t employ his four-seam fastball and power sinker more frequently, pointing out that hanging a slider is much easier than hanging a fastball. The manager appeared to be in search of a happy medium.

“It’s all about location and pitching,” Johnson said. “I never get upset when a guy gets beat with a fastball.”

The numbers, though, are more complicated. While Storen’s slider was battered in his two previous outings, the pitch has actually been the most effective of his short career, holding hitters to a .155 average, according to BrooksBaseball.com. That’s only jumped to a .229 average this season. And Storen is throwing the pitch 32 percent of the time, in line with his career averages.

The larger problem is Storen’s sinker, not one of the issues Johnson singled out. That’s been smacked around for a .720 slugging percentage — including three home runs — this season.

“He had a tendency to try and overpower and trick people,” Johnson said after Storen was touched for three hits and three runs Thursday. “And he doesn’t have to trick people with that stuff. But like I say, hopefully he’ll learn. Because he shook off a bunch of times today to get to the hanging changeup and hanging breaking ball.”

Storen has gone to the changeup a bit more this season — 9.4 percent vs. 4.3 percent for his career — but the shift has hardly been drastic.

Twenty-two of his 54 pitches in the two outings were changeups or sliders, only a couple of pitches from his career averages. There’s no dramatic change. Of course, the hanging changeup and hanging slider deposited into the stands for home runs Thursday can leave a much different impression in a manager’s mind.

— Johnson expects Jordan Zimmermann and Ian Desmond to be named to the All-Star team when rosters are announced at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

— Earlier Friday, Ryan Mattheus threw his first bullpen session since breaking his pitching hand after punching a locker in May. Mattheus threw 25 pitches without incident and could begin a minor league rehabilitation assignment in 10 days, according to Johnson.

San Diego Padres
Evereth Cabrera, SS
Chris Denorfia, 2B
Carlos Quentin, LF
Chase Headley, 3B
Kyle Blanks, RF
Logan Forsythe, CF
Jesus Guzman, 1B
Yasmani Grandal, C
Andrew Cashner, RHP

Washington Nationals
Denard Span, CF
Ian Desmond, SS
Bryce Harper, LF
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
Adam LaRoche, 1B
Jayson Werth, RF
Anthony Rendon, 2B
Wilson Ramos, C
Gio Gonzalez, LHP

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