Washington Nationals should bring back Craig Stammen

DENVER, CO - APRIL 11: Craig Stammen
DENVER, CO - APRIL 11: Craig Stammen /

For six years, San Diego Padres reliever Craig Stammen was a key piece for the Washington Nationals. With a bullpen in trouble, it’s time to bring him back.

As the Washington Nationals welcome the San Diego Padres to the nation’s capital this week, Nats fans will recognize a familiar Friar: Craig Stammen. If Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo is on his game, he’ll make sure that Stammen doesn’t leave D.C. as a Padre.

Stammen broke into the big leagues as a starting pitcher nine years ago on May 21, 2009. He later became one of Washington’s most reliable relievers during its first two division title runs.

While long relief was his initial specialty, Stammen and his heavy sinker/slider repertoire proved just as dependable in working out of tight jams late in ballgames.

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Rizzo let Stammen go after the 2015 season, during which he underwent flexor tendon surgery. After missing the 2016 season, Stammen immediately resumed his solid work in San Diego, where he posted a 3.14 ERA in 60 games during the 2017 campaign. He’s been even better so far this year, posting a 1.99 ERA in 22-plus innings of work.

We have previously advocated for a Nats-Stammen reunion, but with right-handed relievers Ryan Madson, Joaquin Benoit and Koda Glover on the disabled list, the need for his presence is more urgent than ever.

Add in the fact that the Washington Nationals went into the 2018 season without a long reliever,  as well as the ongoing struggles of righty specialist Shawn Kelley. Now a trade for Stammen makes even more sense.

Despite sweeping the Pittsburgh Pirates over the weekend at PNC Park, the Padres still find themselves in last place, behind clearly superior NL West rivals.

Closer Brad Hand would undoubtedly fetch a king’s ransom, particularly after signing a new contract in the off-season, while Stammen should be available at a relatively reasonable price.

How does Craig Stammen feel about his time in Washington? This recent San Diego Union-Tribune interview says it all.

"A lot of good memories of winning a lot of games there and winning a couple division titles. Plus they are a good team. I describe it as playing backyard baseball when you’re playing with your buddies."

Next: Injuries are mounting for the Nats

Craig Stammen’s buddies need him back in the bullpen. The only question is whether the Washington Nationals are willing and able to make it happen.