"That's a whole new breed out there," manager Davey Johnson said. "They're a crazy bunch."
But crazy isn't necessarily a bad thing in this case, at least not to Johnson.
"I have a lot of riverboat gamblers out there," Johnson said. "They'll throw you a 3-2 breaking ball. I like that mental approach. They kind of take the way they live and take it out there."
The Nationals' relief corps has worked 303 innings this season -- fourth most in the National League -- and posted a 3.45 ERA, ranking them eighth in the NL. Michael Gonzalez is the veteran of the group at 34, and Tom Gorzelanny is the only other reliever older than 29.
But Johnson doesn't look at their ages, he said. He's more interested in how well they bounce back from mistakes and how they handle different situations. After nearly 100 games, Johnson believes his relievers are comfortable in their roles, and that's only going to help the young bullpen improve going forward.
"You never know when you're getting the call," Johnson said. "They pretty much read me now, so I think they're more relaxed when they can kind of tell who's going to go in in what situation."