District 9: Craig Stammen

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We are putting our own spin on the traditional “10 Questions” format this season. To mix it up a little, we are asking players, front office members, coaches, prospects and others nine questions we think you’d like to know the answer to, then bringing you their responses in written and video form. This Q&A originally appeared in Volume 6, Issue 6 of Inside Pitch.

1. How do you deal with pressure-packed situations coming out of the bullpen?

I know it’s a cliché, but every pitch matters and you’ve got to take it one pitch at a time. You’ve got to be able to shut your mind off and really focus on what the task is at hand.

2. How do you stay focused throughout the grind of the 162-game season?

It’s definitely tough to have that mindset the same every single day. That sense of urgency has to be built deep within, working every day and getting ready for whatever comes to you throughout the season. If you’re ready for it, it’s only going to help you along the way.

3. How do you define your role on the team?

My role is to do whatever I’m asked to do. I’m one of those guys who doesn’t complain about the role I’m going to be in. Every team needs those role players so the star players can do their thing and lead the team. I’m the blue collar, dirty work type of player on the team.

4. What is your specialty?

I’m a guy who can throw a lot of innings out of the bullpen. I can throw two, three (innings). In extra innings I’m a go-to guy that finishes off the game. If Davey needs a guy to eat up some innings and keep the game close, that’s who I am.

5. What’s the most underrated part of your game?

My hitting. Every pitcher will say that, but I used to do alright when I was starting.

6. Your sinking fastball has been excellent this season. How did that develop as a pitch?

Every year, I’ve always tried to get better in some form or fashion. I just throw my pitches every day and practice throwing them exactly where I want to throw them. I’ve just gotten better every year locating my sinker.

7. What’s it like being in the “zone” with your catcher?

I wish I knew how to get there every time – if I did, the game would be easy. When you’re on the same page and you’re thinking along the same lines, you definitely have more success. It takes being in sync with the scouting report, studying the hitters and the catcher knowing me and my strengths and what I’m doing well that certain day.

8. Describe the camaraderie of this Nationals bullpen.

It’s almost like we’re our own little team. We’re watching the game, talking about the game with each other and rooting for each other when we come into the game.

9. How do the guys in the bullpen feed off of each other’s successes?

You don’t want to be the guy who lets the team down. If everybody is doing their job, you’ve got to do yours and man up and protect the lead.

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