As the Nationals’ primary long reliever last year, RHP Craig Stammenwas one of the best pitchers in baseball. Among pitchers with 80+ innings pitched, he was third in the league with a 2.34 ERA and 21st with an 8.83 K/9. However, he struggled with walks. Despite his great K rate, he was 105th in K/BB ratio among that same set of pitchers because of his extremely high 3.67 BB/9. 2012 was his first full season as a reliever in the majors after he struggled as a starter, which makes some believe that he is due for regression after a lucky season. While Stammen was fortunate to allow so few runs with such a high walk rate, he had a reasonable .270 baBIP, which is often the biggest indicator of whether or not a pitcher will regress. Nevertheless, our projectors were not optimistic that Stammen will maintain his level of production:
ZiPS: 83.1 IP, 83 K, 35 BB, 3.24 ERA, 1.26 WHIP
MLB.com: 69 IP, 58 K, 26 BB, 3.65 ERA, 1.30 WHIP
CBSSports: 85 IP, 76 K, 32 BB, 3.39 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
ESPN Fantasy: 72 IP, 58 K, 25 BB, 3.88 ERA, 1.33 WHIP
Averages: 77.1 IP, 69 K, 30 BB, 3.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP
Obviously, our evaluators believe the true Stammen is somewhere between the one that failed as a starter than the one that dominated as a reliever. It’s hard to expect another dominant season out of Stammen when he has shown himself to be capable of struggling as much as he did, but there doesn’t appear to have been anything too unsustainable in what he showed last year. He will also only be 29 for the 2013 season, which means it isn’t unreasonable to expect further improvement from him. But assuming no change in his abilities, a low-3s ERA makes sense, with plenty of strikeouts and walks. In fantasy, he is similar to most other non-closers in that he has all but no value. He’ll get strikeouts, holds, and a decent inning count, but nothing any other reliever will get. If you need a long reliever for some reason, he’s not a bad option. As a Nat, he’ll continue to bridge the elite rotation with the elite back end of the bullpen. He might not be as great as he was last season, but he will remain a productive reliever.