Feb 5, 2014, 6:00 AM EDT
Age on Opening Day 2014: 30
How acquired: 12th round pick, 2005 draft
2014 salary: $1.375 million
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
2014 storyline: After back-to-back seasons that showcased his effectiveness, durability and versatility, Stammen has firmly established himself as a key member of the Nationals bullpen. The only question entering 2014 is how new manager Matt Williams intends to use him.
Stammen has the ability to pitch one strong inning of relief in tight spots, but he has also proven particularly adept at pitching as many innings as needed (whether early in a game after the starter gets knocked out or later in extra innings). He leads all major-league relievers with 49 multi-inning appearances over the last two seasons.
Best-case scenario: It’s hard to imagine Stammen being much better than the last two years, but the Nationals would love to see him put slightly fewer men on base (perhaps lowering his WHIP from 1.2 to an even 1.0). They’d also love to see him clamp down on the running game, holding men on first base better. Combine those improvements with another 80-plus innings of relief with a 2.25 ERA, and Stammen would have the makings of a brilliant season.
Worst-case scenario: You do worry that the workload is going to catch up to Stammen one of these days. He has dealt with only one semi-significant injury in his career: bone chips in his elbow way back as a rookie in 2009. The odds suggest he might be due for an ailment of some type, in this case perhaps one that would limit him to 30 appearances, an inflated 4.00 ERA and a less-important role in the Nationals pen.
Most-likely scenario: Barring injury, there’s no reason to believe Stammen can’t put together another season like the ones we saw from him in 2012 and 2013. Williams might watch his workload a bit more than Davey Johnson did, so don’t be surprised if Stammen’s appearances and innings go down just a tick (let’s say 50 games and 70 innings). A 2.75 ERA remains highly plausible.
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