Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pic of the Week

Nationals closer Drew Storen sits at his
locker early Saturday morning after
taking the loss in Game 5.
The past week has been a rough one on closers.

Jose Valverde of Detroit pitched twice against Oakland: 16.20 ERA. He closed out one game, blew a two-run lead in another. But his team ultimately won the series. Thus reprieved, Papa Grande proceeded on Friday to choke up a four-run lead in the opener of the ALCS. The Tigers wound up winning the game despite him, and it's difficult to imagine Jim Leyland calling on him again for anything more than mop-up duties.

Jim Johnson of Baltimore — the major league leader in saves with 51 — pitched four times in the five games against the Yankees,  giving up six runs (five earned) in 4.1 innings. He got hammered in a tied Game 1, and gave up the dramatic game-tying pinch-hit homer to Raul Ibanez in Game 3. Rough times indeed.

But it fell to young Drew Storen of Washington — who missed the first half of the season with injury and only reclaimed the closing role in September — to take the worst blown save of the lot.

The worst because it came in Game Five of the NLDS. He had a two-run lead when he took the mound, and his team trailed by two when he left the mound.

And now he has all winter to think about it.

It's the kind of high-stakes failure that can bend a player's career. And he doesn't get to climb back on the horse that threw him for months.

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