It’s been a tale of two seasons for Drew Storen. He entered the 2016 campaign as one of the Blue Jays’ highly-regarded bullpen pieces. But it didn’t take long for Storen to tumble down the depth chart and remove himself from high leverage situations.
Ever since his low point back at the end of April, Drew Storen has very quietly turned his season around. In his first 9 games and 7.2 innings of work, Storen was hit hard for a 9.39 ERA and opponents hit .382 off him. But in his last 21 games and 18.2 innings of work, Drew Storen’s ERA sits at 3.38 and opponents hit .250 off him in that span.
Storen is clearly working in much lower leverage situations than before, but another reason for his success may be related to a very subtle shift on the mound.
Take a look at the GIF and screencap below: the first is Drew Storen’s position on the mound in mid-April, the second being his position on the mound as of Wednesday. It may not seem by much, but he’s shifted about 10-11 inches to the third base side of the mound.
Earlier in the season, Drew Storen pitched from the far left (or the glove side) of the pitching rubber. But as of late, he’s moved much closer to the third base side … about a foot further over than his previous set position on the mound.
Joe Siddall picked up on it during Wednesday’s game against the Diamondbacks, and provides the rationale for Drew Storen moving over on the mound.
Drew has begun again to work from the third base side of the rubber. He just feels that now it’s a tougher look for hitters, especially right-handers. He says from the first side of the rubber, sometimes you just feel lazy as a pitcher, like you can get that ball away to righties, but you leave that arm trailing sometimes.
Several pitchers have used this tactic before with some measured success. The last instance I can think of pertained to Fernando Rodney, and how the Tampa Bay Rays rejuvenated his career by simply moving him over on the rubber.
The Rays did quite the opposite; they moved Rodney to the left side of the pitching rubber, and that translated into a great deal of success for him.
The move in of itself hasn’t been debunked or heralded as the sole reason for either turnaround, but I wonder if the Blue Jays’ pitching staff tried this move to keep Drew Storen from leaving pitches over the heart of the plate to right-handers.
As Joe Siddall mentioned, some pitchers like Storen have a tendency to fly open a bit (which reminds me of Sergio Santos), and it tends to leave the ball in the zone for same-handed hitters.
By no means do I claim to be a pitching expert, but here’s my amateur analysis; moving Drew Storen over to the third base side of the rubber also takes him further out of the wheelhouse of left-handers. By moving over ever so slightly, it’s a tougher angle for left-handers
Lefties have feasted off Storen this season, so if there’s anything he can do to close the gap in his splits, then he should absolutely do it.