VERSAILLES – Versailles High School alumnus Craig Stammen moved one step closer to a return to the major leagues on Tuesday when he was promoted to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers.
Stammen is making his way back from a torn flexor tendon in his right forearm that ended his 2015 season after just five appearances out of the Washington Nationals’ bullpen. Following the season, the Nationals, who selected Stammen in the 2005 Major League Baseball draft, decided not to tender him a contract, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
Stammen ended up signing with the Cleveland Indians in February and has been rehabbing with the organization since then. The 32-year-old got his first action of the 2016 season this summer with the AZL Indians in Goodyear, Arizona, pitching three games for them and allowing two earned runs in three innings.
Stammen was promoted to the Double-A Akron RubberDucks in July. He pitched 10 games for the RubberDucks, allowing one earned run and one unearned run in 11.1 innings for a 0.79 ERA.
The only earned run Stammen surrendered with Akron came on Sunday when he gave up a solo home run in a 1-0 loss to the Bowie Baysox, the Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A affiliate.
In the Columbus Clippers, Stammen is joining a club that leads the International League West with a 61-49 record. The Clippers currently are at home hosting the Indianapolis Indians. Starting Friday the Clippers will start a four-game series at Louisville and then will travel to Toledo for three games before returning home on Aug. 12 for a nine-game home stand beginning with Syracuse.
If Stammen continues his progression, he could end up back in the majors with Cleveland, who currently holds a four-game lead over the Detroit Tigers in the American League Central Division with a 60-43 record.
According to reporters including MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian, the Indians’ biggest need this summer was relief pitching, possibly leaving an opening for Stammen to work his way back to the major leagues.
With the Nationals Stammen found his niche as a reliever. He pitched a league-leading 242 2/3 innings out of the bullpen from 2012-14 with a 2.93 ERA with 222 strikeouts for Washington.
Cleveland worked to improve its bullpen at the trading deadline by acquiring Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. Miller has a 1.58 ERA in 45 2/3 innings in 45 games this season.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.