The Washington Times - January 27, 2012, 10:22AM

One thing we can safely say now that Brad Lidge has joined the Nationals bullpen ranks: It’s getting crowded out there.

The Nationals pitching staff is shaping up to have two of the main position battles in spring training with Chien-Ming Wang, John Lannan and Ross Detwiler fighting for the fourth and fifth rotation spots and now, several others in the mix for limited space in the bullpen.


We did this exercise a while back, right after Gio Gonzalez was traded to Washington, and the responses were interesting and impressive. So let’s give it another go.

Projecting the Nationals 12-man pitching staff:

Here are the candidates:

Starting pitchers:

RHP Stephen Strasburg

RHP Jordan Zimmermann

LHP Gio Gonzalez

RHP Chien-Ming Wang

LHP John Lannan

LHP Ross Detwiler

Relief pitchers:

RHP Drew Storen

RHP Tyler Clippard

RHP Brad Lidge

RHP Henry Rodriguez

RHP Ryan Mattheus

RHP Ryan Perry

RHP Craig Stammen

RHP Yunesky Maya

LHP Sean Burnett

LHP Tom Gorzelanny

LHP Atahualpa Severino


Interestingly enough, the addition of Lidge almost makes it a bit more cut and dry on who will make the team and who, likely, will not. 

From this corner of the room the 12 pitchers most likely to head north appear to be: Strasburg, Gonzalez, Zimmermann, Wang, Lannan, Detwiler, Storen, Clippard, Lidge, Rodriguez, Burnett and Gorzelanny.

Probably the most unfortunate part about that list is that it leaves Ryan Mattheus off of it. Mattheus, it appears, does have one option remaining which would make him and Ryan Perry the most likely candidates to get left off the 25-man roster when the team breaks camp. I say unfortunate because Mattheus was one of the most pleasant surprises of the 2011 season after getting called up to make his big league debut in early June. Nationals manager Davey Johnson relied on him heavily, he likes his stuff and his demeanor and he didn’t hesitate to use him in tough situations. There’s no question he could slide into the Nationals major league bullpen seamlessly but the amount of talented pitchers they’ve stockpiled seems to put him, and Perry, on the outside given their options.

It’s been a month since we last tried to put ourselves in Johnson’s shoes and budget out his best 12 pitchers so let’s give it another shot: Taking the pitchers above, how would you fill out the Nationals’ 12-man pitching staff?