Drew Storen‘s 2012 season was another lesson in Why Not to Pay for Saves: 101. On March 28, after almost all fantasy drafts had taken place, it was reported that Storen was feeling a little elbow soreness. He would miss the start of the season, but he was expected to resume closing duties sometime in mid-April. Then on April 3, Storen was place on the 15-day DL only to undergo surgery eight days later to remove bone chips from his elbow. All of a sudden he was expected to miss half the season.
Storen returned to action on July 19 and pitched 30.1 innings over the season’s final three months. By the end of the year he had a stellar 2.37 ERA and an even more impressive 0.99 WHIP but despite putting in a half-season’s worth of superb play, Storen’s value in non-holds leagues was shot. He ranked just 374th in large part to his paltry four saves on the year.
You see, while Storen was rehabbing, Tyler Clippard was closing. And even when Storen returned, Clippard kept the job. It’s not Storen’s fault in the least, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’d become a significantly less impactful player in fantasy just because his role had changed. Had Storen been a player at any other position — literally anything but relief pitcher — he would have been guaranteed to have had just as much value upon his return as he had before the season (assuming he played well).
In roto leagues you could have just plugged him into a lineup and watched him mash 10 second-half homers, steal 10 second-half bases, or win seven second-half games. Had he regained his job once he returned to the Nats’ pen he would have been as highly sought after in fantasy leagues as he was before the season, but in fantasy baseball relievers often have their values change dramatically overnight.
And that’s just another reason why you don’t pay for saves.
At a Glance
Strengths: SV, ERA, WHIP, BB, BB/9
Neutral: W, L, K, K/9
Best-case scenario: Jonathan Papelbon (PHI)
Likely scenario: Jason Motte (STL), Joe Nathan (TEX), Addison Reed (CHW)
Worst-case scenario: Tom Wilhelmsen (SEA)
Drew Storen 2013 Fantasy Projection
Only in a closer’s world would an 8.56 K/9 be considered “neutral,” but there are a lot of very elite strikeout relievers out there. Storen’s projected 58 Ks just don’t represent a strength, but any pitcher — relievers included — who can post a WHIP around 1.00 is pretty special. With two straight years of great OBAs (despite very low BABIPs), Storen is that guy.
I feel very confident naming him an elite, stable closing option despite what happened last season. The Nationals have had him penciled in as closer ever since they drafted him in 2009, and 2012 was just a small setback in what promises to be a great run of dominance from Storen.