Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stammen optioned to AAA

Craig Stammen's best pitching performance of the season still wasn't good enough to save his job.

The Nationals optioned Stammen to Class AAA Syracuse following today's 5-4, 10-inning loss to the Reds, a move that clears space for Stephen Strasburg to be added in time for Tuesday's game against the Pirates.

Stammen, who entered the afternoon with a 5.88 ERA and every reason to believe his job security was low, nonetheless went out and held Cincinnati to one run over 6 2/3 innings. More impressively, the right-hander threw only 66 pitches before getting pulled by manager Jim Riggleman with two outs in the seventh and the Nats clinging to a 2-1 lead.

"It certainly was not a pitch count issue," Riggleman said. "I just felt like [Orlando] Cabrera, he had centered the ball a couple of times on Craig and I didn't want him to get another look at Craig. I knew I had a very fresh bullpen today. ... We had them all ready. I thought Craig did a great job."

In the end, it really didn't matter how Stammen pitched today. His fate was already sealed. The only question, Riggleman said, was whether Stammen (or any other starter in consideration to lose his spot) would be moved to the bullpen instead. Fellow right-handers J.D. Martin (0-1, 2.31 ERA in two starts) and Luis Atilano (5-2, 4.24 ERA in nine starts) were also candidates for demotion.

"No matter who I'm saying it about, it would be the same thing: It's a painful decision," Riggleman said. "It's a tough call. No matter who it was, that person could say: 'I don't care what the reasons are, I'm disappointed I'm going down.' We could pick apart reasons, but there's reasons it wouldn't be Craig, too."

Stammen, who made the Opening Day rotation after a strong spring, was upset but not surprised at the move.

"I mean, the proof is in the pudding," he said. "I was one of the guys who was in line for that. I haven't been very consistent. That's the way it is."

After making 19 starts as a rookie last season with bone chips in his elbow, Stammen believes he has better "stuff" now than ever before. He also believes he has made some strides in the last week thanks to some work with pitching coach Steve McCatty.

"My stuff's definitely gotten better this year," he said. "I haven't been able to be as consistent with it. I haven't been able to harness it as much as I'd like."

17 comments:

joemktg said...

Leaves on a very good note, hopefully with head held up high.

Anonymous said...

Probably upset and figured he did enough to save his job, but he will be back. As he exits the clubhouse the other starters watch him and think, "One bad start and he'll be using my locker. I need to produce every time." That kind of pressure to perform is needed for this organization...now about Capps?

Anonymous8 said...

Management made the right move. Atilano really earned his spot. Stammen has struggled most of the season but did put out one of his best starts today.

When Olsen is available, it will be a tougher decision to see who goes out of Lannan, Atilano and JD Martin.

Anonymous said...

Should have been Batista. That's Riggleman for you.

Frank said...

...And with Wang after that, it should be even more difficult to decide who gets moved and placed.

Of course, figuring out where better pitchers go is always one of those good problems to have.

Anonymous8 said...

Frank - ...And with Jordan Zimmermann, who leaves the rotation then?

Even Lannan could be on the outside looking in at the end of August if Wang and Zimmermann are ready.

Strasburg
Livan
Olsen
Zimmermann
Wang

alexva said...

The way they've played the last 10-12 games, it's hard to see them in the race for anything this year. If Livo stays sharp, he could be traded, Olsen if he recovers and is effective, same thing.

Cwj said...

@Anon 6:10- Why Batista? He hasn't given up an earned run in his last 11 innings. You must be thinking of the April version of Batista.

Big Cat said...

Stammens was the right choice to go to the minors. He pitches scared...he looks scared....I believe he is scared. He needs to trust his sinker and lets the chips fall as they may. That new saying "pitch to contact" He pitched well today and probably will do so in AAA also. I wish him well, but as everybody knows, the Red Sea is parting and Moses is coming to town!

Knoxville Nat said...

Anon 6:10.....what makes you think it is Riggleman's decision to send Stammen to AAA? Did you bother to consider that perhaps Rizzo has the final decision on these matters? Did you stop to think that Batista has pitched well since April, that he, unlike Stammen, is an experienced relief pitcher?

DezziDoll said...

Tyler Walker should have received the Greyhound ticket to Syracuse. He's worthless. Stammen to the bullpen.

SonnyG10 said...

Hate to see Stammen sent down, but someone had to go. It is a comforting thought that if we need to bring up a pitcher later, he is there.

Grandstander said...

I think the issue here was that Stammen is only good the first 2 times through the lineup. Riggs said as much in that quote and anyone watching these games knows as much as well. He also just got straight up unlucky. He's a way better pitcher than Atilano, obviously, but hasn't really had that opportunity to shine.

It wouldn't surprise me one bit to see Stammen in long relief in the pen and Walker DFA'd before the season is over.

Look at how well Clippard improved after being moved to the pen!

Anonymous said...

Thye should have kept Stammen and moved him to the bullpen and DFA's one of our horrible relievers, Walker, Batsita or Burnett. I hope Stammne shows Rizzo how wrong he is and forces his way back up to NatsTown sooner rather than later.

alexva said...

I think Craig should keep the car running, Wil Nieves may need a ride when Pudge is reactivated.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me said...

I agree with Alexva. And I also believe Stammen (Last victory: April 19th) may be the Bally Star of 2010. Goes down ... and down ... and down ... and never comes up again. I can hardly see this guy cracking a rotation with the likes of Wang and Detwiler in the wings. Nice guy, can hit a wee bit, but just pitches well enough to lose. I got tired of watching the guy.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see what happens when all the pitchers NOT currently in DC come back:

Strasburg
Olsen
Detweiler
Marquis
Wang
Zimmerman

You still have Lannan who is now pitching much better and Livo (trade bait again!). Gotta love that type of pitching depth. Could Stammen, Atilano or Martin make a move to the pen?

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