Nats' staff thriving in post-break play

Nats' staff thriving in post-break play

MILWAUKEE -- During the first half of the 2009 season, the Nationals' pitching staff struggled mightily, posting a 5.21 ERA. However, since the All-Star break, the team had a 3.14 ERA entering Monday's action against the Brewers.

"I think a lot of the things that [former pitching coach] Randy St. Claire was teaching are coming to fruition and [current pitching coach] Steve McCatty has continued that [progress]," interim manager Jim Riggleman said. "We have a young pitching staff. It's nice to see that progress."

It helps that the bullpen, which was a major problem for the team, had a 2.17 ERA after the break entering Monday's action. In that span, the relievers have two wins, two holds and have held opposing hitters to a .207 batting average.

Let's not forget the starting rotation. The John Lannan/Craig Stammen combo has been solid, giving up a combined seven runs in 37 innings.

"You never take anything for granted, but they have both given us a lot of good outings lately," Riggleman said. "They are letting their defense work for them. They are throwing strikes and challenging hitters -- all the cliché stuff you want them to do. I do feel very good about them."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.