Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports
Name: Craig Stammen
Position: Relief Pitcher
While the Nationals were expected to have one of the National League’s strongest bullpens in 2013 with Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, and free agent signing Rafael Soriano, Craig Stammen flew under the radar a bit. Stammen, despite coming off a 2012 in which he posted a 2.34 ERA, was expected to be a middle reliever and occasional long man. Expectations weren’t super high, and Stammen was supposed to provide about 80 innings of relief with a near-3 ERA.
Stammen put together another excellent season in 2013, posting a 2.76 ERA while striking out nearly a batter per inning in 80 excellent innings of relief. While he was statistically only worth one win above replacement in 2013, those numbers don’t really do Craig justice. There were many games when a starter would only make it into the fifth inning and Stammen would come in and keep the opposing lineup at bay while bridging the gap from the rotation to Clippard and Soriano. Stammen also posted the second lowest ERA of any Nationals reliever, second only to Tyler Clippard.
I’m expecting Stammen to once again put together an excellent season in relief in 2014. It’s clear at this point that Craig’s switch from the rotation to the pen jumpstarted his career, and he is expected to be a middle reliever in 2014. While he may make fewer long relief outings if Tanner Roark doesn’t win the fifth starters role, it seems unlikely that Stammen will have any chances to pitch the eighth or ninth innings when the Nats are ahead. A season of seven wins, a mid 2 ERA, and nearly a strikeout an inning in 2014 is exactly what I’m thinking for Stammen.