Stammen always has something to prove

Stammen always has something to prove

WASHINGTON -- Reliever Craig Stammen has arguably been the best reliever in the Nationals' bullpen this year. Entering Monday's action, Stammen led Washington relievers in strikeouts with 10 and had a 1.17 ERA.

Prior to this year, Stammen was never a strikeout pitcher in the big leagues. What's the change? He is 100 percent healthy and trusts his pitching instincts.

"I don't think it's a drastic change. I'm getting an opportunity and I'm trying to take advantage of it as best as I can," Stammen said. "I guess I didn't really trust what kind of pitcher I was. And now I understand, I'm a breaking-ball pitcher, not just a sinkerballer, but I can do both. And now that I have both of those working, it has gone well."

Stammen started the 2012 season as a long man, but has been pitching in the late innings when the game is on the line. That's OK with Stammen.

"Every player wants to have an extended role, no matter what," Stammen said. "When I go out there, you always have something to prove. I'm just trying to prove my worth to the team, help this team win, continually have that little chip on your shoulder. When people don't believe in you, you have to make them believe."