For Craig Stammen, something seemed to change in 2011. After being moved to the bullpen, his numbers started to improve. After a very good 2011 out of the bullpen in limited work, he became the long man for the Nationals in 2012 and was one of the best relievers the team had, playoff performances out of the picture.
September 29, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Craig Stammen (35) delivers a pitch against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Nationals defeated the Cardinals 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
2012 Projection (ZiPS): 6-9, 4.93 ERA, 29 games (22 starts), 135 IP, 39 BB, 86 K
2012 Actual: 6-1, 2.34 ERA, 59 games, 88.1 IP, 36 BB, 87 K
Anytime you can pitch over 80 innings with an ERA under 2.40, you are doing something right. He even got lucky in terms of the win-loss record posting a 6-1 mark as a reliever. His struggles in the postseason could have been due to the fact that he was battling a bug that also affected Bryce Harper during the series. His three runs in three innings over four games was not his shining moment or what he would want to be remembered for this season where he really exceeded all expectations.
Stammen’s best game came June 16 against the New York Yankees in the 11th inning. Stammen pitched 3 innings, striking out 2 and allowing only a walk. The Nationals ended up losing anyways once Brad Lidge came in to get the loss, but that was Stammen’s value to the Nationals bullpen. The team had pretty set roles for each of their players. Whether it be Tyler Clippard (and later, Drew Storen), Ryan Mattheus and others, they had their roles and were able to perform at a high level. Stammen’s ability to pitch multiple innings – and he did in over half of his appearances – made him essential to the Nationals run to a division championship.
Chien Ming Wang