The 2010 edition of the Nationals bullpen is by far the best collection of arms that I have seen in my three-plus years covering the club.
With Clippard, Bruney, Bergmann, Walker, and Capps, you have five power arms. These guys can really "bring it."
Matt Capps has been clocked at 95; Bergmann threw 95 last year, but has topped out at "only" 94 so far this year; Walker is at 93-94, and can hit 95 when it humps up; Bruney has been consistently at 93-94; and Clippard hit 93 in New York with his fastball.
A pitcher doesn't have to be as fine with his pitches at those velocities. Capps, Bruney and Bergmann also feature excellent sliders, while Clippard, who has been the most impressive, throws a curveball that is as good as anyone in the National league - and the changeup that he features looks like it hesitates just as it gets to the plate! His K's are coming mainly on high fastballs. He is a "throwback" with his right over the top arm action. He throws straight downhill with a four-seam fastball that takes off when it is up in the strike zone.
Throwing strikes has been a sore spot in this organization for a long time. Believe me, Riggs and his staff emphasize that point all the time.
Yet it continues to be the pitching staff's number one problem. The bullpen has been no exception. Bruney (4 walks in 2.2 innings) Capps (5 walks in 4 innings and Batista (6 walks in 5.1 innings) have had a little problem with the strike zone. These men have all been closers at some point in their careers, so they know the importance of throwing strikes. It is encouraging that Clippard has only walked 2 in 6.1 innings, while Bergy and Tyler Walker haven't allowed a free pass.
Coming out of the pen on the left side are two solid arms that have excellent breaking balls and herky jerky motions that should give left-handed hitters fits. Jesse English has been used so far by Riggleman as a matchup guy. I like his sweeping breaking ball that sometimes seems to start behind the hitter. He has struggled with his control a little also, walking 3 hitters in 2.1 innings. This is his first appearance in the big leagues, so let's give him a little room to grow.
I have always liked Sean Burnett's arm. I saw him in Pittsburgh when he was a starter and he was nasty. He hurt his arm and has made it all the way back after surgery. He doesn't throw as hard as he once did, but the man knows how to pitch. His cross-firing delivery cannot be real comfortable to the left-handed hitters in the league.
All we have to do is get the Big Boys hitting (Dunn, Zimm, etc.) and I believe that the Boys in the Pen will hold them.