Bullpen Updates


Bullpen Overview: Washington Nationals

So you think your team’s bullpen is a mess?  Let me introduce you to the Washington Nationals.

Washington Nationals Depth Chart – mlb.com

Mike MacDougal – RH (Closer)

Ron Villone – LH (Set-up)

Tyler Clippard – RH (Set-up)

Sean Burnett – LH (Lefty specialist)

Jay Bergman – RH (Mid-relief)

Jorge Sosa – RH (Mid-relief)

Saul Rivera – RH (Mid-relief)

Manager: Jim Riggleman

Pitching Coach: Steve McCatty

Bullpen Coach: Randy Knorr


Just how much of a wreck is this bullpen?  The Nationals made a roster move while I was writing this, forcing me to go back and edit.  They just can’t get it right.  Not only is the bullpen primarily comprised of wash-outs that nobody else wanted, I can’t see a single quality future reliever apart from Villone (who profiles as a lefty specialist in a good bullpen).  They’re using Mike MacDougal as their closer.  Mike MacDougal has a 15-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 and 2/3 innings.  His 2.27 ERA is smoke in mirrors and won’t last any longer than the movie “Gili” did in the box office.

As I mentioned, Ron Villone represents the only useful pitcher in a good bullpen.  Of course, in Washington, he’s the go-to 8th inning guy.  Not good.  His 21-to-22 strikeout-to-walk ratio is only worsted by MacDougal among active Nationals’ relievers.  He’s 39 years old.  Rebuilding teams aren’t supposed to have 39-year-olds on their team.

Tyler Clippard, who will probably start next season, has been good.  He’s posted a 2.51 ERA, a 1.05 WHIP, and a 33-to-15 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 28 and 2/3 innings.

Sean Burnett was acquired from Pittsburgh in the Milledge-Morgan deal.  Fun fact: he had a 3.06 ERA with the Pirates before coming over.  He has a 3.06 ERA with the Nationals this season.  He’s combined to strike out 36 batters and walk 22 this season.  His future has “LOOGY” written all over it.

Jason Bergman (apparently he’s going by Jay now) has been able to limit his hits allowed this year (luck) which has pushed his ERA down from 5.04 between 2005 and 2008 to 4.55.  Still, not a lot to be excited about.  He’s in his peak years and his performance doesn’t warrant much discussion.

The Nationals round out their bullpen with Saul Rivera and Jorge Sosa, because what would a bad bullpen be like without any 30-something journeymen.  They’re both there, but not noteworthy.


Does it really matter?  They’ve been so irrelevant and their bullpen has been in such a state of flux this season, there’s not many patterns to pick up.  MacDougal pitches the 9th in wins (rare).  Clippard and Villone usually pitch the 7th and 8th, I guess.  Most of these relievers shouldn’t be relievers in major league baseball.  Or shouldn’t be in the role they’re in.  Everything’s a downgrade here.  The Nationals have made it known they’ll pursue bullpen help this off-season, they need to.

Inactive Notables:

Scott Olsen – 15 day DL.  Shoulder surgery.  ETA ~ March 2010.

Jordan Zimmermann – 15 day DL.  Tommy John surgery.  ETA ~ August 1, 2010.

Shairon Martis – AAA.

Horatio Ramirez – AAA.

Ross Detwiler – AAA.

(Yes, I know most of the ones I mentioned are starters, but they could have some sort of bullpen impact)



  1. Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Bullpen Overview: Washington Nationals…

    Baseballbriefs.com tracking back Bullpen Overview: Washington Nationals…

    Trackback by Baseballbriefs.com — 08/17/2009 @ 10:36 PM

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    Pingback by Bullpen Overview: Chicago Cubs « Bullpen Updates — 08/18/2009 @ 2:39 AM

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