Photo by Rachel Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Closer Matt Capps looked much sharper last night than he did earlier this spring.
But let's take a break from that for just a moment and look at the other half of the Nats' pitching staff, because it merits examination as well. Remember how awful the bullpen was during the first week of March? Well, very quietly that group has gotten its act back together in the two weeks since.
Let's look at each of the contenders for bullpen spots, with their Grapefruit League stats split between their early outings and their most-recent ones...
First three appearances: 3 ip, 6 h, 5 er.
Last four appearances: 4 ip, 4 h, 2 er.
First appearance: 1 ip, 2 h, 1 er.
Last four appearances: 4 ip, 0 h, 0 er.
First two appearances: 2 ip, 8 h, 5 er.
Last three appearances: 3 ip 3 h, 2 er.
First three appearances: 3.1 ip, 3 h, 3 er, 5 bb.
Last two appearances: 3 ip, 3 h, 0 er.
First three appearances: 3 ip, 4 h, 1 er.
Last two appearances: 3 ip, 7 h, 3 er.
First two appearances: 2.2 ip, 14 h, 11 er.
Last four appearances: 3.1 ip, 3 h, 1 er.
First two appearances: 4 ip, 6 h, 4 er.
Last two appearances: 4.2 ip, 4 h, 1 er.
First appearance: 0.2 ip, 4 h, 2 er.
Last four appearances: 2.2 ip, 2 h, 0 er.
As you can plainly see, just about every potential member of the bullpen has improved as the exhibition season has progressed. Really, Bergmann is the only one whose most recent outings are less-impressive than his earlier ones, though manager Jim Riggleman made a point following Bergmann's last appearance that he wasn't to blame at all for some shaky defense behind him that led to several runs.
Have we seen enough to declare the Nats' bullpen an area of strength? Not even close. But have some of those concerns everyone had after one week of games been eased in the last two weeks? Definitely.