In the past few weeks, we citizens of NatsTown have gotten to glimpse several prominent pieces of the future of the Washington Nationals organization. Amongst the call-ups, we see first rounders, 41st rounders, players making their major league debuts, and players that are trying to restart their careers due to injury or organizational restructuring (Read: position change). All of the players have one thing in common; they all yearn to make a name for themselves - to line up on the foul line on April 5, 2012 at Wrigley Field.
If you head on over to the Mothership (aka Capitol Baseball) you will see quickie profiles on three of those players (Chris Marrero, Brad Peacock, and Tommy Milone). There is one key player that I chose to leave off of that list to save for my debut here at The Nats Blog.
The player in question is a former 12th round pick from 2005, way back when Jim Bowden was steering the ship. And in all honesty, this is the one player that I believe has already earned a spot for next year based on his September performance - which is saying something considering his career path.
Today I would like to talk to you about Craig Stammen.
Craig Stammen first made his Nats debut back in May of 2009 as a starter, the role in which he would spend the next year and a half. He was never able to make much of a name for himself as a starter, always throwing bad starts after his good starts as well as general ineffectiveness. After racking up 38 (!) career starts to the tune of an 8-11 record, 5.08 ERA, and 1.27 WHIP, Jim Riggleman (remember him?) and Steve McCatty (say goodbye while you can) made the decision to move Stammen to the 'pen. Since that move to the 'pen, and necessary adjustment period, Stammen has proven to be an absolute shutdown reliever.
Don't believe me? Let's head to the stats.
Since his absolutely dreadful appearance on September 1st, 2010, when he gave up 6 runs to the Florida Marlins en route to a 16-10 Nats loss, Craig Stammen has made only 11 appearances for the big club. However, in those 13.2 innings, he has given up only 2 earned runs and allowed just 10 hits. To take it just one step further - this September, upon his call-up, Stammen has pitched in just three games - each of them being a lights-out performance.
September 9 vs. Houston - 1.1 IP. 0 H. 0 R. 0 BB. 2 K. - A Nats 4-3 Win.
September 13 vs. New York - 1.1 IP. 0 H. 0 R. 1 BB. 2 K. - A Nats 3-2 Win.
September 16 vs. Florida - 2 IP. 0 H. 0 R. 2 BB. 3 K. A Nats 3-0 Loss.
For those of you scoring at home that's 4.2 IP and no hits allowed.
And if you are still at all skeptical on whether or not Stammen should make the Nats as a reliever next year, you should take an extra close look at his Baseball-Reference WAR. In the first two years of his major league career (totaling 54 games) his WAR was -0.5. In his 5 appearances this year, his WAR is 0.3.
Craig Stammen has earned a spot in the Nats bullpen next year. Even if you disagree, you've got to admit it's better than seeing Tom Gorzelanny down there...
Craig MacHenry is the Managing Editor of CapitolBaseball.com and a regular guest writer for The Nats Blog. He will provide weekly opinion and analysis posts throughout the year.