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Consistent ‘pen seals the deal again

Sep 15, 2010, 9:08 PM EST

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Drew Storen is congratulated by Wilson Ramos after earning the save.

ATLANTA — They’ve been the one constant in an otherwise tumultuous year for the Nationals. Their starting rotation has been great at times, disastrous at others. Their lineup has produced in bunches for a week, then gone ice cold for two weeks. Their defense has been mostly atrocious, though it’s gotten better over the course of six months.

But all along, the Nats have boasted a deep and reliable bullpen, a unit that has earned the trust and confidence of everyone else in uniform.

“It’s awesome,” John Lannan said. “If you go six or seven [innings], if you have the lead, you’ve got a good shot of winning the ballgame. These guys have been outstanding all year. I’m just really impressed with the way they’ve done such a great job.”

The bullpen was back in top form again this afternoon at Turner Field. Justin Maxwell’s early grand slam and Lannan’s six solid innings may have set the tone, but three scoreless innings of relief from Joel Peralta, Sean Burnett and Drew Storen sealed the deal and gave the Nats a 4-2 victory over the Braves.

Just like that, a Nationals club that was chewed out by its manager Sunday for lack of effort and then the following night struck out 15 times in losing its sixth straight game bounced back to beat the Braves twice and deal the NL East contenders a serious blow to their title hopes.

“That’s all we’ve got right now over the last month,” Burnett said, “trying to spoil other people’s seasons.”

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  1. Josh - Sep 15, 2010 at 9:47 PM

    This isn't explicitly about this article, or Storen, but am I the only one who doesn't really buy it when the pitchers wax poetic about how they are learning to "pitch, not throw" and "not trying to strike everybody out" and then they're successful, and when they fail it's always "I got away from what made me so successful before" and "I just wasn't able to make the adjustments" and "mentally I don't think I have the right approach"? There seems to be an article like this every other day, and yet most of the pitchers' performances remain very steady over time (except Lannan's, and there was an obvious explanation for him–he went down to AA to work on his mecanics). Come on guys, just admit that you sometimes have bad days and sometimes have good days.That said, the bullpen has been really stellar in an otherwise disappointing year, and I am thankful for that.

  2. alexva - Sep 15, 2010 at 10:46 PM

    It's called denial and a lot of successful athletes will never admit their shortcomings. When Jack Nicklaus would miss a key put he would often say "I made it, it just didn't go in".

  3. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 11:12 PM

    On an unrelated note, did you see the forearms on Ramos (picture at the top of the page)? Dang, the man's a monster. I don't think anybody wants to charge a Nats pitcher with Ramos in hot pursuit. Some guns…

  4. Anonymous - Sep 15, 2010 at 11:32 PM

    What are Maxwell's stats with the bases loaded?

  5. Josh - Sep 16, 2010 at 12:29 AM

    With the bases loaded, Maxwell is 3-4 with 3 grand slams. Mr. Clutch himself! Too bad when it's NOT a clutch situation he can't buy a hit.

  6. JaneB - Sep 16, 2010 at 12:44 AM

    i hope someone with the pitching staff will see this and check out There's a post there meant for the Nats — for Strasburg in particular — from the amazing Dr. Ric Leskowitz, who uses "weird science" to help various Red Sox players. Check out his work, if you love baseball — but I hope someone can get this info to people working with Strasburg, and for that matter anyone is his situation. Which may well include this bull pen.

  7. JaneB - Sep 16, 2010 at 12:45 AM

    The post to look for is September 12…

  8. Anonymous - Sep 16, 2010 at 1:51 AM

    Time to use your dictionary, alexva, dear.

  9. BQ - Sep 16, 2010 at 2:43 AM

    Mark, from the bullpen who do you see coming back with us next season?And why does some people keep asking you whether NI will be back next season or not? Won't you be covering our Nats in 2011? or what?

  10. Big Cat - Sep 16, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    Good to see Maxwell get a little love. He seems to be a good kid and a hard worker. Too bad Dukes wasn't more like him

  11. Mark Zuckerman - Sep 16, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    BQ: I definitely see Storen, Burnett and Clippard back next year. Probably Peralta (though he is arbitration-eligible) and Stammen. Maybe Slaten and Batista. Balester also has a chance to put himself in the mix with a good September.As for the future of the Insider site, I'm planning to outline my offseason plans right after the season ends. Rest assured, the site will remain active all winter with news, analysis, etc.

  12. Harper_ROY_2012 - Sep 16, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    Mark – a bit off topic but with the season starting March 31, how does this effect the Spring Training Schedule, will pitchers and catchers report earlier or perhaps just a shorter exhibition season?

  13. markfd - Sep 16, 2010 at 2:13 PM

    Whatever happened to Rafael Martin, I thought Stan and Mike said he would be major league ready this year?

  14. BQ - Sep 16, 2010 at 11:09 PM

    Thanks Mark. And I really look forward to this site covering the Nats forever. All I hope for next season is they give closer's duties to Storen before the season.

  15. Anonymous - Sep 18, 2010 at 8:25 AM

    Tailgate!!! Don't forget!!





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