Drew Storen’s Sleight of Hand

Everyone loves a good magic trick.

Quarter from behind your ears? Classic.

Bunny from the top hat? Bravo!

Getting a prom date, looking like me at the age of 17? OK, more miracle and dark wizardry than magic, perhaps benefited by an animal sacrifice, so let’s leave that one out.

Drew Storen‘s ‘here it is, now it isn’t’ whopper of a changeup to Chicago White Sox OF Dewayne Wise last night?


Here’s a poorly made gif of the pitch in question – it’s hard to see, but goodness, it was a disgustingly good changeup:



Thanks to Nats Twitter greats @ambp77 and @NLBeastNats, here’s a still pic of the offending pitch, with a couple of circles to show where it started and where it ended, post Wise swing:


The pitch was started at the hip, and not only did the speed difference fool Wise, even if he didn’t swing, it would’ve been a called strike three with the location. Unreal.

…and what’s more unreal is the pitch repertoire Storen would have if he is able to consistently throw his changeup, offsetting an already devastating high-90s fastball/slider repertoire. It’s rare to find a short inning reliever with 2 plus pitches, let alone 3, but with this new pitch, that’s exactly what the Nats would possibly have in Storen.

With the help of Fangraphs and PITCHf/x, let’s look at Storen’s repertoire:

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 2.36.03 PM

This table shows how frequently and how hard he throws each of his pitches over his career; overall, we see a slight downtick in fastball velocity, with an increase in his using the changeup thus far in 2013.

Screen shot 2013-04-10 at 2.36.22 PM

This second table is data gathered from PITCHf/x information and provides us pitch linear weights, or the runs above average for a given pitch, per 100 pitches thrown. It’s a nice way to measure how successful a pitcher has been with a given pitch; the more positive the number, the more success and vice versa.

Look at the ‘wCH/C’ value this year – 11.90 already for his changeup; Storen’s fastball, even though slightly below his career average velocity-wise, is also looking like a great pitch for him thus far in 2013. As a reference, last year Yu Darvish had the highest changeup pitch value, at 5.71. Storen’s changeup is twice as good as the best one seen last year, per PITCHf/x.


While there’s a lot of game left in this season and hopes must remain tempered, this new(ish) pitch for Drew bodes well for him enjoying a dominant comeback of sorts, after his Game 5 NLDS struggles.

The magic is there – as long as you believe.


  1. Pingback: Cliff Notes: The “I’m a Sci Fi Fantasy Sweater Vest Minor Leaguer” Edition | Nationals 101
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