The "lightning in a bottle" reliever types do vary wildly, they can't hold on to success. But elite bullpen guys are solid, and Bally, Burnett, Storen, Slaten, likely Clippard, they are solid performers. I'm just not worried.
Well, let's run down our bullpen:
Clippard - real deal, he has been great in the bullpen for a long time now and flashed brilliance even as a starter.
Burnett - having an absurdly better season than he ever has before. Classic "lightning in a bottle" type.
Batista - has never been good, hopefully we finally get rid of him this offseason.
Slaten - also having a way better season than he ever has before. Again, it's possible
that they're breaking out, but it's just as likely to be a career year for him.
Peralta - he pitched superbly for us, but he's old and--again--probably had a career year in 2010.
Storen - an interesting case. His high draft pick and minor league splits suggest he should be a really good reliever, but he hasn't had the elite control he did in the minors so far. If he can pull himself together he can be great, but it's way too early to say he'll be our closer for years to come.
Stammen - I'm still not sure moving him to the bullpen wasn't a mistake, but at least he'll be much better in long relief than Batista.
Balester - in a small sample size he has been lights-out. But it is a very, very small sample size.
A bunch of others - gone and have no impact on the Nats' future.
Basically, as good as our bullpen has been, it was really a combination of insane luck (three guys having career years simultaneously, two at 30+) and some nice talent (Capps, Clippard, maybe Balester and Storen). In short, it is exactly the sort of unit you expect
to regress significantly next season. As much as I'd love for Peralta, Slaten and Burnett to all post the same numbers next year they did this year, there's realistically no way that's happening.