Throughout the offseason, The Nats Blog will look back at every player’s 2012 season to summarize and analyze his performance, and we’ll look ahead to his possible role in 2013. We’ll go from #1 Steve Lombardozzi all the way to #63 Henry Rodriguez until Spring Training. Enjoy.
Craig Stammen got his 2012 job after Mike Rizzo and Davey Johnson saw all they needed from him during his 2011 call up. He showed potential in five long-relief appearances, allowing just one hit and no runs in 8.1 innings that September as he revived his fledgling career. In comparison, the 2009-2010 version of Stammen posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.404 WHIP in 38 starts, and it looked like he may be going the way of Garrett Mock, which is to say out of the organization and possibly out of baseball.
In his rebirth as a reliever, Stammen was able to concentrate on throwing hard and using his two best pitches: a fastball and a devastating slider. His average fastball velocity was up more than two miles per hour since his first season, which is common for a starter turned reliever, but it definitely fueled some of his success.
As the 2012 season wore on, Stammen went from a long-reliever and mop up pitcher to a guy that Davey Johnson could occasionally trust in the late innings. His tight, electric slider regularly confounded batters, especially righties. He even earned his first career save in late September on his way to a 2.34 ERA, by far a career best during a full season. All in all, Stammen was an integral part of an extremely talented Nationals bullpen.
For Nationals fans of old, there aren’t many players from the 2009 roster left on 2012 roster, so it’s nice to see someone figure it out from that rag-tag group of players. Many pitchers from that year are no longer even in baseball on the major league level, including guys like J.D. Martin, Shairon Martis, Garrett Mock, and Scott Olsen.
Next year: Stammen’s primary role will likely remain a long-reliever in 2013 as the Nationals have so much depth in the late innings with the addition of Rafael Soriano this offseason. His 3.45 FIP in 2012 seems to indicate he’s due for a regression, though not a big one, and that is still an admirable number. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stammen have another solid season.
Next up: #36 Tyler Clippard