Craig Stammen has been Mr. Versatility for the Nationals’ bullpen. No matter the inning or the length of his outing, the right-hander has been a reliable force in relief.
In Tuesday night’s game against the Rockies, Stammen was called on to relieve Stephen Strasburg, pitching the last out of the eighth and the full ninth inning in a 7-1 win.
Prior to Wednesday night’s series finale against Colorado, Stammen had surrendered only two runs in his past seven appearances.
“I try to show up to the ballpark ready to play and ready to go,” Stammen said. “My biggest asset is being able to pitch every day and being multifaceted.”
He’s come in during the sixth to pitch a couple of innings, and he’s been asked to be an eighth-inning man on days Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen are unavailable.
“It’s what keeps me on the team,” said Stammen, who entered Wednesday’s game with a 2.74 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 42 2⁄3 innings.
On any given day, Stammen might log plenty of innings. Against Miami on April 9, he was called on to pitch the final out of the second inning and go through the fifth after a poor start from Jordan Zimmermann. Entering the game down 5-0, Stammen kept the Marlins’ bats at bay, which allowed Washington’s offense to rally to a 10-7 win.
“He’s ready to pitch every day,” manager Matt Williams said. “He can step into those roles, he can step into the seventh-inning role and get you a double play. He can work into the sixth and through the seventh. He’s very versatile in that regard.”
Stammen can be overshadowed in the Nationals’ talented bullpen. Clippard and Rafael Soriano, in the midst of great seasons themselves, get most of the credit for setting up and closing tight games. Stammen’s job, meanwhile, has been less defined, but meaningful nonetheless.
“He’s pitching in big situations, he’s coming in with the game on the line and runners on base,” Clippard said. “Every situation possible. There’s not too many guys in the league like him, and he’s very valuable for us.”