Oct 23, 2013, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 30
How acquired: 12th round pick, 2005 draft
MLB service time: 3 years, 160 days
2013 salary+bonuses: $875,000
Contract status: Signed for $1.375 million in 2014, arbitration-eligible in 2015 and 2016, free agent in 2017
2013 Stats: 55 G, 81.2 IP, 78 H, 30 R, 25 ER, 4 HR, 27 BB, 79 K, 1.286 WHIP, 0 SV, 1 BS, 7-6, 2.76 ERA, 2.82 FIP, 1.0 WAR
Quotable: “I’ll be here tomorrow. I’ll have my cleats on. If it goes 20 innings, I’m sure I could flip something up there.” — Craig Stammen, May 31, after pitching four perfect innings of emergency relief when Stephen Strasburg departed with a strained lat muscle.
2013 analysis: After a breakthrough 2012 in which he reinvented himself as one of baseball’s best long relievers, Stammen earned a two-year, $2.25 million contract. Given the manner in which he duplicated his feats this season, that deal looks like a stroke of genius.
Stammen possesses the rare abilities both to pitch effectively for long stretches within one game and to bounce back and pitch again the next night. Twenty-one of his 55 appearances this season lasted at least two innings; he recorded seven or more outs eight times. His 49 appearances of two or more innings over the last two seasons lead all major-league relievers.
Stammen isn’t just durable, he’s also highly effective. He surrendered more than one earned run only seven times in 2013 and never allowed more than two in any outing.
2014 outlook: As previously stated, Stammen is already signed for next season, so he won’t need to go through the arbitration process. And his role on the club obviously is secure.
The biggest question might be how the Nationals’ new manager decides to use Stammen. Davey Johnson was a strong proponent of keeping two long relievers (one right-hander, one left-hander) in his bullpen, and Stammen mostly filled that role the last two seasons. A new manager might have a different philosophy on bullpen usage, so it’s entirely possible Stammen could find himself morphing into more of a traditional setup role, pitching one inning at a time and pitching later in games.
However he’s used, Stammen should remain a valuable member of this roster, a workhorse reliever who can thrive in just about any situation.
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