Craig Stammen deserves a shot (USA TODAY SPORTS IMAGES)
WASHINGTON (WUSA) -- We learned Sunday that starting pitcher Dan Haren has been placed on the disabled list because he's had "trouble getting loose," according to manager Davey Johnson.
I'm not a medical expert, but it seems to me like this is a phantom DL trip for Haren, who has arguably been one of the worst pitchers in Major League Baseball. With a one-year price tag of $13 million, it would be an embarrassment to place him on waivers, and an admission of guilt from general manager Mike Rizzo. And there surely isn't a trade market for a 4-9 pitcher with an ERA over 8.00 in the month of June.
So who should temporarily (or hopefully permanently) substitute in Haren's place? There is a valid argument to give newcomer Ross Ohlendorf an extended look in the rotation. The 30-year-old journeyman stole the show with his win at Coors Field, winning fans over with his old school windup. Some will argue Nathan Karns should be called back to the rotation from AAA Syracuse. The 25-year-old has potential with his mid-90's fastball and fearless approach at attacking hitters.
I'm here to argue the contrary. While the rotation isn't in need of a jolt like Anthony Rendon has provided the lineup, an unexpected move could pay major dividends. Davey Johnson should tap Craig Stammen as Haren's replacement.
Believe it or not, the Nationals bullpen has been borderline outstanding after a rocky beginning in April and May. They have enough groceries in the cupboard to survive Stammen leaving the pen.
Ian Krol has literally been unhittable in his eight big league appearances. In 8.2 innings he's allowed just two base runners while striking out. Lefty Fernando Abad's 1.42 ERA is the second best on the team. Drew Storen was vintage Drew Storen in Friday's 2-1 win over the Rockies, retiring Carlos Gonzalez and Michael Cuddyer on some filthy stuff. Rafael Soriano hasn't blown a save since May 21st. You get the point.
Since the 2012 season began, a case could be made for Craig Stammen holding the title as the most underrated Nationals player. Remember the night we all thought Strasburg's season may be over in Atlanta? Stammen came in the game unnoticed like a ghost, baffling the Braves in four innings and earning a critical win. Stammen, 29, seems to thrive when the pressure is on -- his road ERA is a substantial 1.54 plus he was crafty in Game 1 and Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals. The righty's strikeout stuff has been screaming for more playing time and now couldn't be a more opportune time.
Let's not forget before the arrival of Strasburg, Gonzalez and Detwiler, Stammen was a starting pitcher. He started 38 games over the course of the 2009 and 2010 seasons. Although his statistics were nothing to brag about, Stammen has stated he's morphed into a different pitcher since quietly battling through an elbow injury during his first stint as a starter.
It was the bold roster moves in 2012 that helped the Nationals soar to heights never before imagined. Sending down John Lannan to begin the season and opting for Ross Detwiler; letting Steve Lombardozzi leadoff; calling up Bryce Harper in April; letting Jayson Werth leadoff. The Nationals rolled the dice last season and struck gold often.
Davey Johnson should take a trip back in memory lane. I have a feeling Craig Stammen won't let him down.