Relief pitching one major key to Hagerstown's success

The low Single-A Hagerstown Suns, a Nationals affiliate playing in the South Atlantic League, have started the season 21-7 with big hitting and some good games from the starters.

But another reason for their fast start has been the relievers holding leads from the fifth inning on most nights.

Hagerstown director of broadcasting Eli Pearlstein told me on 106.7 The Fan's "Nats Insider" that this crew has won a lot of games for the Suns to begin this season.

"Two relievers just got promoted recently to Potomac, Matthew Spann and John Simms, but the relievers this year have an ERA below 2.00," Pearlstein said. "While the starting rotation has the big-name prospects, it has actually been the relievers that have pitched better so far this season. They are a big reason why this team has 20 wins already."

Manager Patrick Anderson giving the ball to the relievers for the final four innings to finish off games. Pearlstein said there is a reason why these relievers can go long in the second half of games.

"There (are) a couple of relievers that have started before," Pearlstein said. "Dixon Anderson, who was actually a mid-season All-Star in the South Atlantic League last year, has been pitching some relief. Wander Suero, who was terrific last year in the Gulf Coast League, has also been tremendous, pitching four or five innings in relief. So they have arms that have been experienced starters who can come out of the bullpen and go four or five innings in relief."

Here is an update of how these young arms in Hagerstown bullpen have done the last two weeks:

* Right-hander Anderson came in to the May 1 game in relief, going 3 1/3 innings and allowing only two hits and two runs. This is after he had allowed 12 earned runs in his previous two starts.

* Right-hander Suero has surrendered just three runs in his last 14 2/3 frames

* Left-hander Jake Walsh has allowed no runs and no hits in his last three games.

* Right-hander Andrew Cooper has yielded three runs in his last nine innings over three games.

* Left-hander Justin Thomas has given up only two runs in 6 2/3 frames over his past three appearances.

* Right-hander Ryan Ullmann has surrendered no earned runs in past four games over 9 2/3 innings. He picked up his third save with 3 2/3 innings on Sunday.

* Right-hander Michael Silvestri has given up one run May 2 in two frames with three strikeouts.

Opposite dugout: Rays' bats helping to compensate ...
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