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Nationals roster review: Drew Storen

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Nationals roster review: Drew Storen

Age on Opening Day 2015: 28

How acquired: 1st round pick, 2009 draft

MLB service time: 5 years, 140 days

2015 salary+bonuses: $5.7 million

Contract status: Arbitration-eligible in 2016, free agent in 2017

2015 stats: 58 G, 55 IP, 45 H, 23 R, 21 ER, 4 HR, 16 BB, 67 K, 1.109 WHIP, 29 SV, 5 BS, 2-2, 3.44 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 0.7 WAR

Quotable: "This last month and the struggles, that's not me. I've had some tough times, but I've also come through and dealt with frustrating times and adversity and gotten through it better. I look forward to it being the same this time." — Drew Storen, Sept. 17

2015 analysis: Drew Storen entered the season as the Nationals' unquestioned closer, and over the ensuing four months he did nothing to suggest he didn't deserve to remain in that role. On July 29, he owned a 1.73 ERA, 29 saves in 31 attempts and a ridiculously low .521 opponents' OPS.

Then the Nationals made their big trade deadline acquisition, getting Jonathan Papelbon from the Phillies, and suddenly Storen was bumped to a setup role. Despite his obvious frustration with what he perceived as a demotion, the right-hander initially was effective pitching the eighth inning. He retired the first 12 batters he faced after the Papelbon trade, six via strikeout.

But then came a grand slam surrendered to Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez on August 7, and everything fell apart after that. Storen wound up with a 9.22 ERA over his final 15 appearances, blowing a late lead three times and taking the loss in another game. Then, adding injury to insult, he fractured his thumb when he slammed it against his locker after a particularly difficult loss to the Mets on Sept. 9 and didn't pitch again before season's end.

2016 outlook: This might be the most fascinating personnel decision the Nationals face this winter. Given the way things played out following the Papelbon trade — this on the heels of the Rafael Soriano signing in 2013 — Storen might well have seen his time in D.C. come to an end. Fair or unfair, he has no reason to believe the Nationals trust him to close again. At this point, a change of scenery might be necessary.

What, though, can the Nats reasonably expect if they dangle Storen in a trade offer? He's entering his walk year, he stands to make good money via the arbitration process and he now has melted down twice after his team acquired another closer to take his job. Opposing teams will know all of this before ever engaging in trade discussions.

Is there a chance Storen could remain in Washington in 2016? Sure, though he may always be looking over his shoulder, waiting for another vote of no confidence in him. If he can overcome all this and recapture his top form again, all credit to the right-hander.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.