Potomac starters looking to copycat relievers' success

The Single-A Potomac Nationals have seen outstanding pitching from their bullpen recently and are looking for their starters to follow suit.

Fresh off the boost of Stephen Strasburg's appearance Friday, starter Paul Demny fired eight strong innings Saturday in a 3-2 win.

Cameron Selik started off well Sunday before getting into some trouble and falling to 4-9.

Sammy Solis is close to returning from elbow soreness while Evan Bronson picked up for Strasburg and helped to guide the P-Nats to a 1-0 win.

Adam Olbrychowski has had some gems lately and gets the nod tonight.

But the scores have been down just as much because the relievers have done their jobs.

Left-hander Josh Smoker continues to steamroll through innings. He has allowed only one earned run in his last 10 outings, sporting an impressive 0.93 ERA. Smoker has allowed only four hits in the past 9 2/3 innings. Overall, he is 4-2 with a 1.66 ERA in 40 games.

Potomac pitching coach Paul Menhart singled out Smoker and others as the key to the bullpen's positive work recently.

"There are about four guys out in that bullpen that I have been very pleased with, and that is Joe Testa, Smoker, Marcos Frias and Hector Nelo," Menhart said. "Mitchell Clegg has picked us up. Rob Wort and Neil Holland have had their moments, (but) they have struggled as of late. It was good to see Holland throw a little bit better (last week)."

No complaints for Nelo, the right-handed closer who has a 2.18 ERA with a 1.54 ERA the last 10 games, giving up only two earned runs during that span. He has 15 saves in 27 games.

"I have been very pleased with the bullpen," Menhart said. "I would like to see my starters do a little bit better job so we can get the ball to our bullpen and get into this playoff situation."

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