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Bullpen Remains A Constant For Nationals

May 27, 2014

Washington, D.C. -- The injuries and trips to the disabled list by members of the Washington Nationals have been well chronicled this season.

Four members of the Opening Day lineup have spent at least 15 days on the DL -- third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, left fielder Bryce Harper, catcher Wilson Ramos and first baseman Adam LaRoche.

In addition, center fielder Denard Span was on the seven-day concussion DL. Span, Ramos and LaRoche had returned to the lineup as of May 25, while Zimmerman and Harper were still out.

But the offense continued to struggle even with LaRoche, who hit a two-run home run during a 3-2 loss May 26.

"For whatever reason, I've watched it for years," LaRoche said. "As a team, when guys struggle, it has a tendency to be contagious at times -- whether it's pressing and trying too hard or just running into some good pitchers. I got a feeling it's a little bit of both right now." 

Among starting pitchers, Doug Fister began the season on the DL and has now made four starts, while lefty starter Gio Gonzalez went on the DL May 18 with left shoulder inflammation.

Nationals 2014: Doug Fister
Photo Credit: Mitch Stringer/PressBox

There is one faction of the club that has not been hit with injuries, and perhaps it is no coincidence that group -- the bullpen -- has been one of the most productive and consistent for the Nationals.

"The bullpen has been really, really good," manager Matt Williams said.

The Nationals' bullpen has an ERA of 2.09, the best mark in the majors. Washington was ahead of San Diego (2.26) and San Francisco (2.40).

The Washington bullpen ranked in the top five in MLB in several categories, including wins (tied for third with 11), opponents slugging (third at .315) and WHIP (fourth at 1.16).

When starter Tanner Roark (three runs in seven innings) left the game May 26 trailing, 3-2, the Nats turned to Tyler Clippard to pitch the eighth, and lefty Jerry Blevins to take the ninth. Each pitched a scoreless inning as Clippard lowered his ERA to 1.54, while Blevins, picked up from Oakland as part of a trade Dec. 11, 2013, is now at 3.15.

Other members of the bullpen include closer Rafael Soriano (11 saves, 0.90 ERA), Drew Storen (1.06), Craig Stammen (2.57), rookie Aaron Barrett (0.47) and former starter Ross Detwiler (5.24).

Stammen pitched two innings May 25 during a loss at Pittsburgh and got a double play on the first pitch he threw when he came on for Fister in the sixth. He allowed one run during the outing.

Barrett, who pitched at Double-A Harrisburg last year, has been stellar. He has allowed exactly one earned run since September 2013. He did not allow a run during spring training, and did not allow a run with two saves during two games for Triple-A Syracuse earlier this year.

In 19 innings with the Nationals, Barrett has allowed one run with 24 strikeouts and nine walks and held batters to an average of .188.

Rookie Blake Treinen will get the start at home May 27 against the Marlins, who beat the Nats, 3-2, May 26. There is a good chance Treinen won't go nine innings. And although the Nats are struggling at 25-26, calling on the bullpen is not a bad option for first-year manager Williams.

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