Bergmann Won't End Up As a Starter

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 7, 2008

ATLANTA, Sept. 6 -- On the day the Washington Nationals dispatched Jason Bergmann to the bullpen, all the talk was about adjustments. In too many of Bergmann's games this season, he hadn't made them.

"Sometimes he has that one bad inning and can't get himself out of it," General Manager Jim Bowden said Saturday.

As a result, the Nationals made an adjustment of their own.

For the rest of the season, Bergmann -- 2-11 with a 5.23 ERA in 24 games (22 starts) -- will pitch from the bullpen. Shairon Martis, 21, will join the rotation -- the latest progression in a season that started in Class AA Harrisburg and was extended with a September call-up.

It just so happened that Martis and Bergmann were the first two starters Washington used this series against Atlanta. And their performances, juxtaposed, finalized this decision. Martis, in his major league debut, lasted five innings and gave up two runs. Bergmann allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings, the last straw for a right-hander with a 7.26 ERA since the all-star break.

"I'm really upset that a few outings toward the end here ruined the year that I had," Bergmann said, "because up until that point I felt like I was throwing the ball pretty well fairly consistently, and I don't know what's going on. I think I'm just trying way too hard, and instead of trusting everything I'm trying to make things happen, and it's gotten me in trouble."

Team management, too, subscribes to the try-too-hard theory; it's code to describe a pitcher who, at times, worries more than he should.

Said Manager Manny Acta, "The last couple of starts he's really been over-thinking, and when he was going good he was just working fast, grabbing the ball and not analyzing every pitch."

The Nationals issued no predictions on Saturday about Bergmann's future role. Bergmann came up through the minors as a reliever, and only last year did he make the transition into the rotation. Meantime, Martis will have the season's final weeks to make an impression for 2009.

"Going into spring training," Acta said, "we'll have a clearer picture of whether this guy really fits into our plan as a starter."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company