Nats bullpen leads MLB in strikeouts and swagger


Craig Stammen has seven strikeouts in 6.1 innings pitched this season. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

The Nationals’ bullpen leads major league baseball in strikeouts (48) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.7), which is a good sign for a unit that struck out the second fewest batters in 2013. Nats relievers have combined for more strikeouts than the starting rotations of five National League teams, including Atlanta.

Granted, this is all in 34 innings of work against the Mets, Braves and Marlins, whose hitters ranked tied for first, tied for first, and sixth, respectively, in strikeouts last season. While the Washington bullpen’s second-ranked ERA (1.59) and walks and hits per inning (WHIP: .91) have yet to stabilize, the early-season swagger (wSWG+) is real.

Here’s Tyler Clippard strutting off the mound after striking out Giancarlo Stanton with a filthy splitter on Tuesday.

And here’s rookie Aaron Barrett with the stare down after whiffing Stanton on Thursday.

“He’s a bulldog,” Stephen Strasburg said of Barrett. “He’s not scared of anybody. That’s why he’s on this team, and that’s why he’s going to be put in those positions many times this year.”

Nope, not scared of anybody.

Scott Allen writes about all things D.C. sports. Follow him on Twitter @ScottSAllen or e-mail him if you’ve got a tip to share.
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