Although the Washington Nationals claim a rotation that headlines pitchers like, Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Doug Fister, if a team plans to score runs against them it is best to do it early. Their bullpen is even better. With a 2.48 combined ERA through 80 games, they are currently second in all of baseball. As the Milwaukee Brewers found out in a 14 inning game earlier in the year, this bullpen will not give in. Here is a look at some of the pitchers that make this group so strong.
Even though he is in his first full major league season, the 26 year old Aaron Barrett has gotten off to a great start. With over a strikeout per inning, Barrett has been able to keep hitters at bay all season long. Through his first 31 appearances, he has allowed only six earned runs.
Usually long relievers are supposed to be the weakest arms in the pen, but in former starter Ross Detwiler, the Nationals have a steady arm that they can count on. Though he had a difficult May, in which he allowed 10 runs in seven appearances, his other two months have been stellar. During his last two outings against both the Brewers and Cubs, he pitched seven innings allowing only two hits and zero runs. He is certainly not just a pitcher who is used when the game is out of control.
In 2012, Tyler Clippard saved 32 games for the Nationals and in 2013 he was even better as the setup man. This season he has continued to be a reliable late inning arm, currently compiling a 2.00 ERA. He has been a power pitcher, with strikeout stuff who has even record a save this year. With 47 strikeouts in 36 innings, he has been able to consistently keep hitters off the bases.
Like Clippard, Drew Storen has a closer like presence. In 2011 Storen saved 43 games, and has the ability to step in and close if necessary. This season has statistically been his best. He not only is currently boasting the best ERA of his career, but hitters are batting a measly .183 against him. His WHIP of .80 is even better.
For the past several seasons, Rafael Soriano has been one of the best setup men and closers in all of baseball. He not only was able to step in for the injured legend Mariano Rivera in New York, but he has also dominated with the Nationals. This season, he has been mostly untouchable in the ninth. He currently holds a 1.09 ERA through 33 games, and with a .155 opponents’ batting average against him, he has been able to keep hitters off base even better than Storen. If a team is trailing in the ninth against him, there is a good chance the game is over.
Statistics Provided by MLB.com