Posts Tagged ‘Matt Chico’

Nats-Fish Focus On Relievers

Sunday, May 9th, 2010

While Craig Stammen and the surprising Matt Chico provided strong outings in facing the Florida Marlins, neither pitcher was able to notch a win — with both the Nats and the Marlins depending on relievers to provide much-need wins. Stammen was steady in the Nats loss to the Fish on Friday, but the young righty’s strong start was not enough for the Nats, as they dropped a very winnable 4-2 decision. The loss was the result of a middle-innings collapse engineered by a Marlins line-up that fed off a shakey eighth inning by reliever Brian Bruney. Just as Stammen was strong in his start on Friday, Matt Chico (recently recalled from Double-A Harrisburg) provided Washington with a solid five-inning outing in their Saturday face-off against the Fish: but once again the game was decided by relievers, as the Nats notched a 5-4 victory in the eighth on a Adam Dunn HBP served up by Florida reliever Burke Badenhop.

The tale of the two games focused on relievers — and their failures. Brian Bruney was the focus of the Nats loss on Friday, as the former Yankee was unable to provide solid relief behind Stammen. With the game tied at 2 in the top of the eighth, Bruney couldn’t keep the Fish off the board: “I put myself in a situation where it was not good,” Bruney said after the Friday loss. “I feel I’m building and I’m getting better. I’m going to go out there tomorrow, hopefully, and things will be different. Tonight wasn’t my night. Unfortunately, I let a bunch of guys down and that is not a good feeling.” Bruney has appeared in fifteen games, but has been unable to keep baserunners off first: walking eighteen batters and registering a 6.00 ERA in his fifteen innings of work. The walks are disturbing — reminiscent of last year’s 103 loss bullpen collapse. “He needs to find a way to relax out there,” Nats skipper Jim Riggleman said of Bruney. “We’ve had those conversations with him. It’s up to him. He has to find a way to throw strikes and quality strikes. It has been a battle up to this point.”

The Nats are still counting on Bruney to right himself and be a proven addition the rest of the season. But keeping Bruney as the team’s 7th inning set-up man is an experiment that has clearly ended. The Nats have apparently handed the ball to Sean Burnett for the 7th, after calling up Doug Slaten from Triple-A Syracuse. Slaten, a former D-Back, has only appeared in 80.2 innings of relief work — but his recall will add another lefty to the bullpen, freeing up Burnett from facing only left-handed hitters. The front office is apparently unwilling to bring relief phenom Drew Storen to Washington, preferring to give him more minor league work — but there’s little question the Indiana native and tenth overall pick in last year’s draft will be in Washington soon. Storen’s steady work in the minors has impressed the Nats’ brain trust, while being eclipsed by the outings of Nats star-in-waiting Stephen Strasburg.

The Nats will face off against the Marlins again on Sunday at Nats Park in the final game of the three game set, but will then head to New York to face the Mets.