30 Players in 30 Days: Doug Slaten
The Nationals bullpen ranked last in the Majors with a 5.04 ERA in 2009. In 2010, the revamped bullpen was the Nats knockout punch. They posted a 3.33 ERA, good enough for fifth in the Majors and fourth and the NL. It was a night and day difference from last season. Contrasting bullpen ERAs from ’10 to ’09, the Nationals paced the Majors with an improvement of -1.71. San Diego was second with an improvement of just under one run. Doug Slaten was one of the reasons for the improvement.
The 30-yead-old lefthander was claimed off waivers in October and earned a spot in the bullpen in May, after a dominate performance at Triple-A Syracuse, pitching 17.0 scoreless innings of relief.
“He’s was outstanding down in Triple-A,” General Manager Mike Rizzo said. “He earned his way up here. We try to reward success down there, and certainly he’s pitched well.”
Slaten was lights-out after July 24 for the Nats. He went 2-0 with two holds, a .176 BAA and a 2.29 ERA (5 ER/19.2 IP) in 23 appearances. Overall, he wasn’t the go-to pitcher in pressure situations but he pitched well when his name was called. He didn’t allow a run in 37 of his 49 outings and only allowed 15.4 percent of the inherited runners to score, bested only by Drew Storen’s 14.8 percent on the Nationals.
After the best season of his career, Slaten proved he can be a lefty specialist–lefthanders hit just .151 (11-for-73) against him this season–and a strong sixth or seventh member of a bullpen.