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Projected Opening Day Bullpen: Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Ryan Mattheus, Henry Rodriguez and Zach Duke
Brought in to solidify the closer role in the Nationals bullpen, Soriano will bring past success and experience to a primarily young and talented group.
If he can continue to put up the numbers he has over the past few seasons, a 45-50 save year will be within reach. Soriano stepped in for the injured Mariano Rivera a year ago and converted 42 of 46 saves with a 2.26 ERA.
The right-hander should be in for another solid campaign and help rack up the saves in DC.
Clippard will most likely assume the setup role going into the 2013 season.
He was an all-star in 2011 in this role and will be the consistent bridge to Rafael Soriano in helping close out games. Clippard still possesses solid control and has tallied a WHIP of 1.21 or less in each of the past four seasons.
The right-hander should be able to follow up his early career success in 2013 and help comprise one of the deepest bullpens in baseball.
He could potentially close out some games under Davey Johnson's "A and B" bullpen system, which keeps his top relievers fresh and requires shuffling of closers.
Although that is no guarantee, Storen could rack up around 10 saves in 2013.
With Rafael Soriano signed to a lucrative deal, it will most likely be his job to lose. The addition of Soriano might put Storen into a position where he’d rather not be.
But the pickup should make the entire bullpen better by pushing each reliever up one inning.
The Nationals now boast a bullpen with three different pitchers that can amass a 30-plus save season.
Stammen had a 2.34 ERA and 1.20 WHIP, with 87 strikeouts in 88.1 innings.
A converted starter, Stammen has been a solid bullpen force since being moved to a relief role in 2010. He is a nice source of low ERA/WHIP and high strikeouts for the Nationals.
Stammen will look to continue this middle relief role in 2013.
He has been a solid arm out of the Nationals' bullpen since his debut last season.
He owns a career 2.84 ERA and 1.19 WHIP in 54 major league outings. Mattheus is used in a variety of situations for Washington and is a trusted by Davey Johnson and the rest of his staff.
Mattheus will look to help continue the consistency of the Nationals bullpen going into 2013.
We saw his ERA jump from 3.56 in 2011 to 5.83 in 2012 (although his WHIP dropped from 1.51 to 1.40).
He is probably fourth in line for saves this year, so his value will lie in his ability to strike batters out (his career rate is around 9.0 K/9). If Rodriguez can improve upon his erratic control, he could be a very dependable option out of the Nations bullpen.
It also doesn't hurt that he can hurl the ball consistently at 100 MPH.
Duke will most likely be the final piece in the puzzle.
In the eight games he appeared in last September, Duke allowed only two earned runs in 13.2 innings.
With Sean Burnett gone via free agency, Duke is the Nationals lone left-hander out of the bullpen. This fact alone makes him a lock to make the Nats opening day roster, edging out Christian Garcia.