"To really take [the] next step, to add 10 more wins," Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman said as the 2010 campaign came to a close, "we're going to have to up it a little bit in the starting rotation." D.C. GM Mike Rizzo had already publically stated that a top-of-the-rotation arm was the no.1 target for the Washington Nationals this winter. The Nationals needed help in the rotation, "and your starters have got to go out there and go 6.0-7.0 innings," to take pressure off the bullpen Riggleman said. But if they failed to add an arm and the Nats' starters continued to, "go 5.0 innings, 5.1, that type of stuff," the Nationals' Manager said, "then you really need to add another bullpen guy. Our bullpen's done a good job, but you need another real quality bullpen guy cause you're going to them so often." As we all know now, and barring the Nats' involvement in the emerging market for Minnesota Twins' left-hander Francisco Liriano and his surgically-repaired left elbow, the Nationals' GM tried but ultimately failed to sign a no.1-type starter, but there are a number of contenders for the bullpen addition in addition to those who earned roles last season...
• Collin Balester - RHP, 6'5'', 24 yo - Montreal Expos' '04 4th Round pick out Huntington Beach High School in Huntington Beach, CA. 2010 Stats: (0-1), 17 G, 21.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 159 ERA+, 3.51 FIP, 12.00 K/9, 4.71 BB/9. Collin Balester made the transition from rotation option to bullpen arm and in the process put himself in a position to earn a bullpen role going into Spring Training. The right-hander had an impressive September, giving up six hits, two earned runs and seven walks in 11 games and 13.1 IP in which he K'd 16.
Random Collin Balester Quote: "[Balester's] breaking ball has been a put away pitch for him, he's got it down in the zone, it's got great rotation on it, and it's a swing and miss pitch, and no one is hitting him right now, his numbers are outstanding, and he's making a case for himself to come into the Spring and maybe show us that he can be that extra plus arm in the bullpen." - Jim Riggleman, Federal Baseball.com
• Joe Bisenius - [Non-Roster] - RHP, 6'4'', 28 yo - Philadelphia Phillies' 12th Round pick in '04. Signed as a FA w/ Washington Nationals, (5/31/10, 11/11/10). 2010 Stats - (A-AA-AAA): 34 G, 38.1 IP, AAA - 14 G, 16.2 IP, 2.70 ERA 3.02 FIP, 16.2 IP, 10.80 K/9, 3.24 BB/9. DC - 5 G, 4.2 IP, 9.64 ERA, 7.58 FIP, 9.64 K/9, 11.57 BB/9. Joe Bisenius signed with Washington and worked his way back to the majors in spite of the fact that he had a "Final Major League Game" in 2007 listed on his baseball-reference.com page when he signed with the Nats.
Random Joe Bisenius Quote: "'When a guy that has kind of arm, when you get reports of a guy pitching in the high 90s, you can't just let him walk away in the winter,' Jim Riggleman said." - CSN/NatsInsider.com's Mark Zuckerman, "Bisenius' surprise opportunity."
• Sean Burnett - LHP, 6'1'', 28 yo - Pittsburgh Pirates' 2000 1st Round pick. Acquired along with Nyjer Morgan by Washington Nationals in a 6/30/09 trade that sent RHP Joel Hanrahan and OF Lastings Milledge to Pirates. 2010 Stats - (1-7), 73 G, 63.0 IP, 2.14 ERA, 189 ERA+, 2.73 FIP, 8.86 K/9, 2.86 BB/9. RHB's vs Burnett?: .182/.253/.234 line, .233 BABIP. LHB vs Burnett?: .273/.327/.384, .368 BABIP. Under consideration for closer, more likely a set-up role like last year.
Random Sean Burnett Quote: "'I'm not much of a gambler,' Burnett said, 'but I know I'm pretty good at baseball and I know I had a pretty damn good year last year. So this was a chance I was willing to take.'" Sean Burnett upon losing arbitration to Washington Post writer Chico Harlan, "Washington Nationals pitchers Sean Burnett, Brian Bruney lose out in arbitration."
• Adam Carr - RHP, 6'2'', 26 yo - Washington Nationals' '06 18th Round pick. 2010 Stats - AA-AAA: (6-2), 52 G, 72.0 IP, AA - 36 G, 50.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 2.70 FIP, 8.58 K/9, 2.50 BB/9. AAA - 17 G, 21.1 IP, 2.08 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 7.89 K/9, 4.15 BB/9. After a strong 2010 campaign, Adam Carr went to the AFL where the right-hander was (1-0) with a 2.08 ERA, eight K's and one save in 10 G and 13.0 IP.
Random Adam Carr Quote: "Biggest surprise was probably Adam Carr, who had barely pitched in college but showed great stuff while dominating low Class A in his pro debut." Baseball America's Aaron Fitt to Nats Farm Authority's Brian Oliver.
• Tyler Clippard - RHP, 6'3'', 26 yo - New York Yankees' '03 9th Round pick. Acquired by Washington Nationals from NY for RHP Jonathan Albaladejo, 12/4/07. 2010 Stats - (11-8), 78 G, 91.0 IP, 3.07 ERA, 132 ERA+, 3.18 FIP, 11.08 K/9, 4.05 BB/9. Tyler Clippard emerged along with a resurgent Matt Capps as the Washington Nationals' 1-2 punch at the back of the bullpen, won legions of fans with his approach on the mound (and his approach to the mound accompanied by the POTUS' "Peaches"), and vultured wins from starters all season.
Random Tyler Clippard Quote: "Tyler Clippard on deception in his delivery: "I'm not sure. I'm not really a hitter, so I couldn't really tell you how much it helps or doesn't help. I know, obviously, there is some deception there, which is good, but that's kinda just how I throw, so I'm lucky enough to kind of have that in my repertoire, I guess, but I don't really know if it's that or the [fact] that I have a good changeup or what it is, but I think it helps a little bit for sure..." - Tyler Clippard, Federal Baseball.com
• Todd Coffey - RHP, 6'4'', 30 yo - Cincinnati Reds' 1998 41st Round pick. Signed as a FA w/ Washington Nationals. (1/24/11). 2010 Stats - (2-4), 69 G, 62.1 IP, 4.76 ERA, 84 ERA+, 4.20 FIP, 8.09 K/9, 3.32 BB/9. The
42-year-old 30-year-old veteran right-hander and one-time Reds' closer of the future was brought in as a free agent to compete for a bullpen role, possibly as closer along with Drew Storen, Henry Rodriguez, Tyler Clippard, etc.
Random Todd Coffey Quote: Todd Coffey on his trademark sprint from the bullpen, which he first did after a rally during a AA game in 2004: "'I liked the way it felt,'" he said. 'I liked the spike of adrenaline. My legs felt good. I just decided to keep doing it.'" - New York Times' writer Jack Curry, "Brewers Reliever Hits the Ground Running."
• Cole Kimball - RHP, 6'3'', 25 yo - Washington Nationals' '06 12th Round pick. 2010 Stats - A-AA: (8-1), 6 SV, 2.17 ERA (A - 19 G, 24.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 2.23 FIP, 9.85 K/9, 2.92 BB/9), (AA - (5-1), 12 SV, 38 G, 54.0 IP, 2.33 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 12.33 K/9, 5.17 BB/9). AFL '10 - (0-0), 0.75 ERA, 1 SV, 11 G, 12.0 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 15 K's. Cole Kimball was added to the 40-Man roster to protect him in the recent Rule 5 Draft, if AFL success continues, could make jump to D.C. this season, making roster out of ST a longshot...
Random Cole Kimball Quote: "Q: Does #Nationals RP Cole Kimball have closer potential?" A: Don't think his command is that good. More of a set-up ceiling. - Baseball America's Jim Callis on Twitter (@jimcallisba)
• Cla Meredith - [Non-Roster] RHP, 6'0'", 27 yo - Boston Red Sox' '04 6th Round pick. Signed w/ Washington Nationals as a FA. (2/2/11). 2010 Stats - (0-2), 21 G, 15.0 IP, 5.40 ERA, 6.61 FIP, 4.20 K/9, 2.40 BB/9. Meredith, a possibility for the Nats' bullpen (?) is a ground ball pitcher (66.3 GB%, 15.6 LD%, 18.1 FB% on his career) who threw two pitches (FB/SL) out the pen in 21 appearances and 15.0 innings on the mound for the Baltimore Orioles last season.
Random Cla Meredith Quote: "The 27-year-old groundball pitcher is 14-9 with 37 holds and a 3.07 ERA in 213 games against National League teams." - Nats' Official Press Release.
• Ryan Mattheus - [Non-Roster] - RHP, 6'3'', 27 yo - Colorado Rockies' '03 19th Round pick. Acquired by Washington Nationals along w/ RHP Robinson Fabian in trade for LHP Joe Beimel. (7/31/09). 2010 Stats - Rk/A - (1-1), 0.79 ERA, 10 G, 4 GS, 11.1 IP, 8.73 K/9, 2.38 BB/9. Ryan Mattheus was acquired by the Nats at the '09 Deadline after he'd undergone Tommy John surgery. The Nationals are apparently really comfortable with the recovery rates from Tommy John surgery.
Random Ryan Mattheus Quote - "In 26 innings before the surgery, Mattheus struck out 27, and based on that, the Nationals thought he’d be worth the wait. The recovery rate for TJ surgery is over 85 percent, and while we likely won’t see him in person until spring training of 2011, it’s an interesting gamble. - Washington Examiner's Phil Wood, "Time will tell on Nats trades".
• Elvin Ramirez - [Rule 5 from NYM] - RHP, 6'3'', 23 yo - Signed as an non-drafted free agent by NY Mets in Sept. '04. Selected by Nationals in 2010 Rule 5 Draft. 2010 Stats - A+/AA: (4-4), 52 G, 80.0 IP, 4.16 ERA, (A+ - 49 G, 73.1 IP, 4.17 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 7.98 K/9, 5.28 BB/9. AA - 3 G, 6.2 IP, 4.05 ERA, 7.70 FIP, 6 BB, 7 K's. DWL: (1-2), 1.85 ERA, 20 G, 24.1 IP, 5 BB (1.85 BB/9), 28 K's (10.36 K/9). The Nats touted the fact that this right hander hand finally figured out how to control his fastball and the fact that he allowed just 2 HR's in 80.0 IP, while holding opponents to a .212 BAA in 2010. (That's from the press release.) Has to make team out of ST and remain on roster or the Nats have to work out a deal with the Mets to keep him.
Random Elvin Ramirez Quote: ""He's finally figuring out the strike zone," Rizzo said. "The latter portion of the minor league season and this winter, he's taken it to a different level. He's a big, power guy we hope helps us in the bullpen this year." - Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore, "Nationals select Elvin Ramirez in Rule 5 draft."
• Henry Rodriguez - RHP, 6'0'', 23 yo - Signed by Oakland Athletics as an amateur free agent in 2003. Acquired along with OF Corey Brown by Washington Nationals in 12/16/10 trade that sent OF Josh Willingham to the A's. 2010 Stats: AAA - (0-2), 11 SV, 20 G, 21.1 IP, 1.69 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 13.08 K/9, 3.80 K/9. OAK - (1-0), 29 G, 27.2 IP, 4.55 ERA, 92 ERA+, 3.15 FIP, 10.73 K/9, 4.23 BB/9. The hard-throwing right-hander can be seen HERE throwing three straight 100mph+ fastballs in old Yankee Stadium.
Random Henry Rodriguez Quote: "We fully expect Henry to make the club," Rizzo said, "He's been scouted extensively by us. We think that he's a power arm that's going to fit in somewhere in the middle of the bullpen..." - Mike Rizzo on Henry Rodriguez, Federal Baseball.com.
• Atahualpa Severino - LHP, 5'9'', 26 yo - Signed as a non-drafted free agent by the Montreal Expos. (2/13/04). 2010 Stats - AAA - (6-3), 54 G, 67.1 IP, 3.34 ERA, 4.31 FIP, 6.15 K/9, 3.88 BB/9. DWL - (0-2), 9.64 ERA, 20 G, 14.0 IP, 7 BB (4.5 BB/9), 16 K's (10.29 K/9). Atahualpa Severino, a Dominican-born right-hander signed by the Expos, was called up to Washington for three games last season, but never made an appearance. Could another former Montreal signing make it to the Nationals' roster this season?
Random Atahualpa Severino Quote: "Atahualpa Severino (pronounced ah-ta-WALL-pa sev-er-E-noh)." - Nationals' official press release.
• Doug Slaten - LHP, 6'5'', 31 yo - Arizona Diamondbacks' 2000 17th Round pick. Selected off waivers by Washington Nationals. (11/4/09). 2010 Stats - (4-1), 49 G, 40.2 IP, 3.10 ERA, 131 ERA+, 3.64 FIP, 7.97 K/9, 4.20 BB/9. After a solid 2010 season, Doug Slaten and the Nationals agreed on a one-year/$695,000 dollar deal to bring him back to work out of the bullpen as a situational left-hander.
Random Doug Slaten Quote: "Nationals pitcher Doug Slaten has received a three-game suspension for intentionally throwing a pitch at [Gaby] Sanchez in the bottom of the seventh after a warning had been issued in the sixth inning." - MLB Press Release.
• Craig Stammen - RHP, 6'3'', 26 yo - Washington Nationals' '05 12th Round pick. 2010 Stats - (4-4), 35 G, 19 GS, 128.0 IP, 5.13 ERA, 79 ERA+, 4.06 FIP, 5.98 K/9, 2.88 BB/9. Can Craig Stammen transition from 5th-starter option to rubber-armed middle man? Barring a standout spring, there's likely no room in the rotation. Can Stammen stake a claim to a bullpen role?
Random Craig Stammen Quote: "'When you are in the middle of the game, boy, you can't be messing around," Stammen said. "You have to be at the top of your game from the first batter you face. I learned that pretty quickly in the first couple of outings." - MASNSports.com's Byron Kerr, "Nats' Stammen confident as starter or reliever."
• Drew Storen - RHP, 6'2'', 23 yo - Washington Nationals' 09 1st Round pick. 2010 Stats - (4-4), 5 SV, 54 G, 55.1 IP, 3.58 ERA, 113 ERA+, 3.26 FIP, 8.46 K/9, 3.58 BB/9. The Nats' second '09 1st Round pick charged through the Nats' system to make his major league debut last season and after closer Matt Capps was traded, Storen assumed the closer's role he was drafted to fill. Must defend his place as the Nats' ninth-inning option this Spring.
Random Drew Storen Quote: " They say baseball's a game of inches and it's really the case in the ninth inning. The hitters just kick it up another notch, I feel like. You throw a lot of good pitches that guys hit really well and I had to relearn and readjust to that ninth inning..." - Drew Storen on MLB Network Radio.
• Josh Wilkie - RHP, 6'2'', 26 yo - Signed w/ Washington Nationals as an undrafted free agent in 2006. 2010 Stats - (4-4), 53 G, 69.2 IP, 2.45 ERA, 2.83 FIP, 8.01 K/9, 2.84 BB/9. VWL - (2-2), 3.20 ERA, 18 G, 19.2 IP, 3 BB, 7 K's. The right-hander signed out of George Washington University has been championed by Brian Oliver from the Nats Farm Authority for as long as I can remember. Pitched with Storen and Strasburg in the AFL in 2009. Longshot for 2010 bullpen out of ST.
Random Josh Wilkie Quote: "'You're trying to find a job [in the offseason] unless you've got a lot of money,' he said. 'But not that many people have enough money to sustain themselves in the offseason. So you've got to find a job, but who's going to hire you for four months?'" - Josh Wilkie to Washington Post writer Tracee Hamilton, "Wilkie hopes to find doors opening in Washington."
• Tim Wood - [Non-Roster] - RHP, 6'0'', 28 yo - Florida Marlins' '02 44th Round pick. Signed as FA w/ Washington Nationals. (11/12/10). 2010 Stats - (0-1), 26 G, 27.2 IP, 5.53 ERA, 77 ERA+, 4.92 FIP, 3.25 K/9, 4.88 BB/9. Tim Wood, a sinker/slider pitcher out of the Marlins' system signed with Nats as a FA this winter. Wood made his MLB debut in 2009. Along the way in his minor league career, Wood's had Tommy John and labrum surgery. But has kept pitching.
Random Tim Wood Quote: On Injury History: "I'm not one that's going to give up on anything. I'm going to give you all I have. It just s**ks that you have go through that, but it's part of the game, and I guess they say only the strongest survive." On arsenal/approach: "I'm a sinker/slider guy. Love, obviously trying to get ahead, put people away with my slider. But I'm a ground ball pitcher most of all with the sinker." - Florida Sun Sentinel.