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Clippard stays as closer, Lidge setting up

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Clippard stays as closer, Lidge setting up

BOSTON -- Brad Lidge made seven relief appearances for the Nationals in April, before he required surgery to repair a sports hernia, and all seven came in the ninth inning or later.

After about six weeks on the shelf, Lidge is back in the Nationals bullpen. But you probably won't be seeing him pitch the ninth inning unless something out of the ordinary happens.

Manager Davey Johnson said today he plans to keep Tyler Clippard in the closer's role for the foreseeable future, likely until Drew Storen comes back from elbow surgery in mid-July. That leaves Lidge in the setup role he was originally signed to hold.

"I know Bradley can close ballgames," Johnson said prior to the Nationals' series opener against the Red Sox. "And I'll probably keep him in that group with Sean Burnett and my closer, Clippard. Keep him in that threesome there. Hopefully I'll get a lot of work for Clippard, and he'll need some relief."

That was the first time Johnson specifically used the word "closer" when describing Clippard, but it had become fairly obvious the right-hander had inherited the role over the last 2 12 weeks.

Johnson has turned to Clippard in each of the Nationals' last five save opportunities, dating to May 22 in Philadelphia. And the All-Star setup man has successfully converted all five opportunities, dominating opposing hitters in the process.

Clippard has yet to surrender a hit since taking over closer duties, and over his last 16 appearances he's allowed only one earned run and three hits (all singles).

Lidge, meanwhile, blew two of four save chances (and posted a 5.14 ERA) in April before suffering his injury. Signed over the winter for 1 million after saving 223 games for the Astros and Phillies, the veteran was expected to serve as a setup man and mentor for Storen.

Lidge made two rehab appearances for Class A Potomac and was due to make at least one more before coming off the disabled list. But with Henry Rodriguez struggling and dealing with a strained finger, the Nationals activated Lidge sooner than planned Thursday.

Lidge is available to pitch tonight against the Red Sox.

"I know we cut short his rehab because of Henry Rodriguez, and he was a little concerned I might use him yesterday after his second rehab game," Johnson said. "But I think he's fine. And I feel comfortable, no matter how I use him."

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Stephen Strasburg saves Nationals from series sweep

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Washington Nationals Roundup: Stephen Strasburg saves Nationals from series sweep

With 11 strikeouts and only two hits in eight innings, Stephen Strasburg contained the Marlins to nothing as the Nationals won 5-0 in Miami. Here are the latest news and notes after Sunday’s victory.

Player notes:

Anthony Rendon remains day-to-day after being hit on his left elbow by a pitch Saturday. He left Saturday’s game and missed Sunday’s outing as well. Howie Kendrick, his replacement thus far, finished the series against Miami going 1-for-3 with a single RBI.

Stephen Strasburg posted double-digit strikeouts for the first time this season (11). Strasburg dropped his ERA by almost 1.5 runs, and is expected to start next against the Padres. That series begins Friday, April 26.

Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-4 with two home runs. He tallied two RBIs as well.

Injuries:

3B Anthony Rendon: Elbow hit by pitch, day-to-day

RP Austen Williams: Shoulder, 10-day IL

RP Justin Miller: Back, 10-day IL

SS Trea Turner: Finger, 10-day IL

RP Koda Glover: Elbow, 10-day IL

Coming Up:

Monday, 4/22: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Tuesday, 4/23: Nationals @ Rockies, 8:40 p.m. ET, Coors Field

Wednesday, 4/24: Nationals @ Rockies, 3:10 p.m. ET, Coors Field

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3 things to watch when the .500 Nationals head to Colorado

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3 things to watch when the .500 Nationals head to Colorado

The Nationals face the Rockies at Coors Field for the first half of this work week. Here are three things to watch for:

  1. Can the Nationals stay above .500? Stephen Strasburg’s impressive start along with Ryan Zimmerman’s two homers and two RBI kept Washington from being swept by the lowly Marlins.

  2. Who will produce with Anthony Rendon out? While the Nats 3B was sidelined with an elbow injury after being hit by a pitch in Saturday’s outing against the Marlins, Howie Kendrick started in his place. Kendrick went 1-for-3 vs Miami with one RBI and one strikeout. In terms of replacing Rendon’s hitting prowess, Victor Robles has started a streak of his own. The youngster is hot on a seven game hit streak, including a bunt over the infield Sunday.

  3. Will the Nationals ever sure up their end game? Yesterday’s ninth inning was on the brink of disaster. Kyle Barraclough allowed back-to-back walks, then Sean Doolittle loaded the bases. Luckily for the Nats, crisis averted.

Download the MyTeams app for even more Nationals content, and check out the latest episode of the Racing Presidents podcast below.

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