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Clippard continues efficiency in closer role

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Clippard continues efficiency in closer role

With a two-run lead in the ninth inning, and five straight left-handed batters due up in the Mets lineup, Nationals manager Davey Johnson called on his latest temporary closer. The right-handed Tyler Clippard took the mound for another save situation, not the lefty Sean Burnett who had pitched the eighth in a setup role.

What has been an all-season shuffle of the deck, Johnson said after the Nats Wednesday night win over the Mets hes tired of moving things around.

Ive basically been going to Clip. Ive changed enough roles in the bullpen with the long guys setting up, the setup guys closing, I dont like to keep reverting back and have them guessing out there what their roles going to be, he said.

Clippard shut the door on a scrappy New York lineup and earned his fifth save on the year, the fifth in his last six appearances. The 2011 All-Star who made his name as a setup man now holds the title of closer. It is a role he has told coaches and teammates alike he wants and a position he enjoys.

Clippard takes the mound with swagger and a hop in his step, he brings confidence into a game that he can mow down any part of any teams batting order.

"I would rather face lefties anyway. Hopefully Johnson feels comfortable with me facing lefties regardless, he said.

I feel like I am a guy who can get both lefties and righties out and have proven that over the course of the last three years.

Based on his 2012 splits, Clippard is right. With roughly the same amount of at-bats facing lefties and righties, he has held left-handed batters to a .125 average compared to the .205 mark right-handers have held on him.

Johnson seems to agree Clippard is good against just about everybody and after the game gave some insight into what makes him so dominant.

Against left or right his stuff is so electric. The changeup and his fastball, even when he comes right down the middle with it, it jumps on you and they have a hard time centering on it, he said.

Clippard is starting to collect the saves and now sits with a 2.55 ERA on the year after a slow start to the season. He fits the profile of a major league closer, is pitching effectively in the role, and enjoys the pressure, but what happens when Drew Storen gets back in about a month or so?

Johnson says hell have to relinquish the job at some point.

Actually, his pitching efficiency on closing has been better when he set up. He seems to be more focused and I have no problem going with him. He is going to have to cry uncle, but he likes the fact that hes closing.

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

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Whoa. Dusty Baker not returning as Nationals' manager. What comes next?

The Washington Nationals announced Friday Dusty Baker will not return as manager of the club in 2018. 

Baker led the team to the first back-to-back division titles in franchise history, and the Nationals were 192-132 under Baker, but they failed to make it to an NLCS.

Baker is 14th in MLB history with 1,863 career wins.

The next Nationals' manager will be their seventh since they arrived in DC.

Only the Marlins have had as many.

"I'm surprised and disappointed," Baker told USA TODAY Sports. "They told me they would get back to me and I told them I was leaving town yesterday and they waited 10 days to tell me."

"I really thought this was my best year. We won at least 95 games each year and won the division back to back years but they said they wanted to go a different direction. It's hard to understand." 

The team also announced the contracts for the Major League coaching staff have also expired, and the search for a new manager will begin immediately.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER THANKS NATIONALS' FANS FOR SUPPORT

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

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Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy undergoes successful knee surgery

While Nats fans were still digesting the news that Dusty Baker will not return as manager next year, the team released some more surprising news. 

Second baseman Daniel Murphy underwent knee surgery today, per an official team report. 

Washington Post reporter Chelsea Janes reported that the surgery is considered significant and the team won't put a timeline on the recovery process:

"The procedure, according to the statement released by the team, repaired articular cartilage in Murphy’s right knee. For those interested in the details, it was a debridement and microfracture surgery, and orthopedic surgeon Timothy Kremchek performed it."

"For those concerned with the implications of the procedure, those are still unclear. The statement clarified that Murphy’s rehab “will progress throughout the offseason,” as one would hope, and did not include a timetable.

RELATED: HARPER THANKS FANS FOR SUPPORT