MIAMI -- The Nationals know they need to get better performances from members of their bullpen not named Sean Burnett, Drew Storen or Tyler Clippard. They just don't know who among the rest of the group is most likely to do it.
While their top three relievers have pitched well through the season's first week, collectively posting an 0.93 ERA entering tonight's game against the Marlins, the Nationals' four other bullpen members are sporting a 15.63 ERA.
Left-hander Doug Slaten and right-handers Todd Coffey, Chad Gaudin and Brian Broderick have all struggled so far in 2011, to the point where Jim Riggleman isn't always comfortable using them in close games. Eventually, though, the manager knows someone from that group is going to have to step up when called upon.
"It's not like they're not a challenge for hitters," Riggleman said. "They've got good arms. They've got good stuff."