Saturday, April 14, 2012

Stammen thrives against hometown team

US Presswire photo
Craig Stammen has struck out six of the last seven batters he's faced.
When Craig Stammen entered to pitch the top of the 13th inning last night, the Nationals reliever had no idea how many people in the Washington area were still burning the midnight oil to watch this 4-hour marathon. But he had a pretty good idea what was going on in his hometown of Versailles, Ohio, at that moment.

"Because every single person I know was watching the game," he said. "And rooting for the Reds. So that makes it good that I pitched well against them."

Stammen didn't just pitch well against his childhood favorites. He obliterated them. For the second straight day.

In two appearances against the Reds, Stammen has faced seven total batters and struck out six of them. And since both appearances came in extra innings, shortly before his Nationals teammates rallied to score, he's emerged with two wins.

"I'm very blessed," he said. "It's fun pitching against the team that you grew up watching and know everything about. I don't know if it's extra motivation, but it gets you a little more pumped up."

A starter for most of his career at the University of Dayton and then in both the minor and major leagues, Stammen is in semi-unfamiliar territory these days, pitching out of the bullpen as a long reliever. He's adjusted to the role well; in 11 combined relief appearances dating back to last season, the 28-year-old has a 1.13 ERA and a 19-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

Stammen, in his "Aw, Shucks" Ohio manner, insists he's just happy to be in the big leagues, no matter his role. But he does seem to appreciate the way manager Davey Johnson has been using him, especially in extra innings the last two days.

"It's a lot easier to pitch when you have a 3- or 4-run lead and you can just throw strikes and go after hitters," he said. "But when you come in extra-inning games, you know you can't give up a run. You have to be spot-on with all of your stuff."

And it certainly helps when you know your entire hometown is watching, distraught over the fact you just beat their favorite team.


JaneB said...

Maybe he will make them upset again today. If he needs to, I'mm 1000% behind him.

Anonymous said...

I am really glad they picked Craig over Durbin JayB.

But I wonder why no one wants to write about Gorzelanny who looks like a far better choice than the pitcher who has become worse than Yunesky Maya, John Lannan?

SpingfieldNatsFan1 said...

Stammen is one of those players that separates the pretenders from legitimate playoff contenders. The Nats front office and scouts deserve a lot of credit for holding onto Stammen until this point where he's really coming into his own.

Theophilus said...

Stammen really proves the value of minor league instruction. From a low-profile college program, not a high draft pick. I recall the Nats saying that, only in 2008 did he finally develop his sinker, lower his WHIP and BB/9 and elevate his GO/AO. (Gawd I'm sounding like one of those SABRE people I can't stand.) With his background as a starter, he's a Bautista with "stuff." Not just a mop up guy. The extra-innings slot is ideal for him. How often is there a tie game, or a blown save, where the closer and set-up guy have been burned, the bullpen has been stretched thin and you think, "Who's going fight off the aliens until this bunch can score a run?" I would keep him around forever.

fpcsteve said...

Casey Cox redux. How old am I? Rhetorical question that requires no reply... (-;

Cwj said...

Way to go Stammen!
What a far different pitcher than he was as a rookie starter a couple years ago.
He's learned a lot since then and is now a very good reliever.
He really does rack up the Ks!

LoveDaNats said...

He has been unbelievable. I was not much of a fan when he was a starter but he has improved so much and they are using him just right.

ehay2k said...

I have always like Stammen's stuff. It was his pitch choices and tendency to nibble that caused him problems. So, I'm happy he has found a role and is doing well.

There's no one to dislike, like with FLop and Dukes, on this team. :-)

natsfan1a said...

Atta way, Stammen! Ohioans are very nice; I married one. :-)

Gonat said...

Remember our comments at the beginning of Spring Training that got a lot of laughs about Stammen's extra weight in his lower body and glutes.

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