Oct 3, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcherJerry Blevins
(13) pitches against the San Francisco Giants in the sixth inning during game one of the 2014 NLDS playoff baseball game at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: H.Darr Beiser-USA TODAY Sports
Option 1: Promote the veterans…
While losing Clippard weakens the Nationals’ bullpen, the team is fortunate to have several veteran relievers that might be able to use their experience to succeed in the eighth inning role. Among these veterans are left-handers Jerry Blevins and Matt Thornton, and right-hander Craig Stammen.
Blevins, whom the Nationals acquired in a trade with the Athletics last offseason, struggled at times in his first season with the Nationals, going 2-3 with a 4.87 ERA. He did finish the season on a positive note, however, and did not allow a hit in three NLDS appearances.
The Nationals acquired Thornton on a waiver claim from the Yankees last season and the left-hander turned out to be a brilliant addition to the bullpen. Thornton pitched 11 1/3 scoreless innings for the Nationals while striking out eight and walking two.
Of the three players in this option, perhaps the most intriguing is Stammen, who has been used almost exclusively as a long reliever for years.
The right-hander has been a mainstay in the Nationals bullpen since 2012 and has done a great job in long-relief, eating up 242 2/3 innings the last three years while posting a 2.93 ERA over the last three seasons. With the Nationals trading Ross Detwiler earlier this offseason, Stammen will likely be back in a long-relief role in 2015, but it would be very interesting to see what he could accomplish in a late-innings role.
While all three of these veterans have a chance to take over the eighth inning role, the Nationals may be more inclined to choose from their arsenal of young pitchers, which we will discuss in the next slide, to replace Clippard in the eighth.