The Washington Times - March 18, 2011, 02:36PM

VIERA, Fla. — Brian Broderick has never pitched at any level above Double-A.

Through four minor league seasons in the St. Louis Cardinals organization, he compiled a 4.06 ERA — though he pitched to a 2.77 ERA in 100 innings at Double-A last year. And while he showed flashes of becoming a solid No. 5 starter, the Cardinals weren’t impressed enough to protect him in the Rule V draft this offseason.

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Drafted in 2007, this is in fact the right-hander’s first big league camp. But with less than two weeks until Opening Day, Broderick has not only proven that he belongs at major league spring training, he’s making a case for a spot on the Nationals 25-man roster.

While he’s not in the running for the fifth rotation spot in Washington, Broderick has compiled an impressive spring resume as a reliever. Allowing just one earned run in 9.2 innings of work, Broderick is holding opposing batters to a .138 average and improved upon that today when he set down his former team on 17 pitches in the fifth. He threw 12 strikes, walked one and got three ground outs to keep his stellar spring numbers intact.

“I’m very pleased at what I’m seeing,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman before the game. “He’s forcing the issue and I’m glad to see him doing it.”

Because Broderick is a Rule V pick, the Nationals must keep him on the 25-man roster for the entire season or return him to the Cardinals for half of what they paid to select him. His ability to provide long relief, a la what Miguel Batista did for them in 2010, works in his favor.

However, Chad Gaudin is also a candidate for that role, as would be Ross Detwiler should either not make the Nationals starting rotation.