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Bullpen shoulders heavy load, and more could be in store

Morning roundup

When Stephen Strasburg unexpectedly missed his start on Tuesday night, it set off a ripple effect in the bullpen that may continue for some time.

When the Nationals scratched Strasburg at the last minute because of soreness in his shoulder, long reliever Miguel Batista became the emergency starter, going five innings and allowing no runs on three hits with six strikeouts and one walk against Atlanta. Then Sean Burnett worked two innings, followed by Drew Storen for an inning and Matt Capps in the ninth for his 25th save in a 3-0 victory.

Last night, starter Livan Hernandez, who usually works deep into games, lasted just 4 1/3 innings in a 3-1 loss to the Braves in the second game of the three-game series. Doug Slaten pitched to one batter before giving way to Tyler Clippard, who pitched perfectly through an inning and a third. Joel Peralta pitched the final three innings, allowing no runs and two hits with three strikeouts.

"We got three or four guys today who didn't get in the ballgame or who threw minimal amounts," Manager Jim Riggleman said last night when asked if he felt the bullpen is overtaxed. "Burnett, Slaten, they'll be very much available tomorrow, as will [Matt] Capps. [Tyler] Clippard didn't throw that much. Obviously if we come out of the game real early tomorrow, we could get in a little trouble."

Scott Olsen is scheduled to start this afternoon's game, and it's likely the bullpen will be a factor. Olsen had been on the disabled list since May 23 with shoulder inflammation before a minor league rehab stint. Olsen most recently threw a bullpen session with Class AAA Syracuse on Tuesday, and there's no telling how many innings he'll last against the potent Braves lineup.

If the bullpen is needed early today, it may not bode well for the start of the Nationals' next series, against Philadelphia beginning Friday. Because Olsen is the probable starter today, that means Craig Stammen and Ross Detwiler will move back to Friday and Saturday, respectively. Stammen has gone six full innings once over his past four starts. Detwiler, meantime, is easing back into the rotation after rehabbing from hip surgery and went 3 2/3 innings in his first big league start on Sunday.

"We have a lot of confidence in what we're doing," Storen said. "We've put in the right work, so we're in shape, we're flexible enough to [pitch a lot of innings]. That's what we're here for, to pick up starters. If something happens like [on Tuesday], that's our job, so we're ready to go."


The Nationals did right by Strasburg to keep him out Tuesday, writes Tracee Hamilton.

Adam Kilgore writes about Tim Hudson clamping down on the Nationals' lineup.


Indianapolis 7, Syracuse 5: Jason Marquis allowed four runs on six hits and struck out seven in five innings.

New Hampshire 1, Harrisburg 0: Brad Peacock threw seven shutout innings, but Rafael Martin allowed the winning home run in the 11th.

Wilmington 5, Potomac 4: Patrick Lehman pitched five innings, giving up two runs on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts.

By Gene Wang  |  July 29, 2010; 8:00 AM ET
Categories:  Pitching rotation , bullpen  
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Next: Riggleman: Strasburg likely to be shut down for 10 days


If Hudson was shutting down the Nats, it seems really silly to have pulled Livan.

Posted by: charley42 | July 29, 2010 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Agreed that it was silly to pull Livan. It wasn't like they were roughing him up. The Nats gave away a run in the first on the steal of home. Livan had cruised through innings 2,3 and 4 before getting in a little trouble in the 5th. Guess Riggleman just couldn't wait any longer to pull a double-switch. I think the man is addicted to the double-switch. Is there such an organization as DSA - Double Switch Anonymous - that could help him.

Posted by: slopitchtom | July 29, 2010 9:22 AM | Report abuse

In the 5th inning, with your bullpen burned up from the night before, why would you let Slaten pitch to only 1 batter? And if you are so concerned that he cannot get out the next righty, then why put him in there in the 1st place.

Posted by: comish4lif | July 29, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If the Nats had a .600 winning %age, it'd be great. But why bother with the 1 or 2 batter pitchers when your playing .350 ball?

Posted by: charley42 | July 29, 2010 1:04 PM | Report abuse

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