Seriously. I'm not sure where he came from, but he's absolutely been the Nationals most improved reliever in 2010. It's easy to say that Tyler Clippard has been the Nats best, what with his 11 wins and 2.77 ERA. But the fact of the matter is, we've seen this with Clippard before. His walks per 9 innings, strikeouts per 9 innings, and strikeout to walk ratio are all nearly identical between 2009 and 2010.
Sean Burnett, though, is a different story. His lowest ERA earned in any given season was 3.12 in 2009 when he split time between the Pirates and the Nationals. This season, his ERA currently stands at 2.26. But what really shows Burnett's improvements are some other stats.
In 2009, Burnett gave up almost 1 home run every 9 innings. This year, it's 0.5 per 9.
Last year, 4.4 walks per 9 innings. This year: 2.9.
Last year, 6.7 strikeouts per 9 innings. This year: 9.2.
Last, but certainly not least... last year, 1.54 strikeout to walk ratio. This year: 3.21.
Right handed batters are still hitting an outrageously low .189 against him. His WAR is 1.8, putting him almost in starter-value territory. His WAR is this high, even though he has a 1-7 record, because he has had immeasurable value to the Nationals this season.
These are remarkable improvements for a pitcher that was thrown out of Pittsburgh in favor of Joel Hanrahan. I'm certainly not knocking Joel, and I wish him success in his future, but it must have been insulting for Burnett. He came to DC to start this year with something to prove. And he's proved everything he's needed to this season. He's established himself as a crucial member of the 2011 Nationals bullpen.