The Nationals have tons of “what if” scenarios because of so many key players going on the DL, as well as the emergence of young talent. With the Nats in first place and looking fairly decent, the answers to these questions actually mean something for the first time since they have been in DC.
Once Jayson Werth gets healthy, what will the outfield look like?
If Davey keeps Strasburg at an innings count, will John Lannan be called up in the fall?
With the strong performance of Tyler Clippard this year, does Drew Storen automatically get his spot back once he’s healthy?
The last question brings up the long time debate of “Do you lose your spot because of injury?” Drew Storen was one of the bright spots for the Nats last year going 43 for 48 in save opportunities. After Storen was put on the 60 day DL with a bone chip in his elbow, newly acquired Brad Lidge proved he is washed up by allowing 10 runs and 11 walks in 9.1 innings. Henry Rodriguez was then given an opportunity, but was designated for assignment after not being able to locate his 100mph+ fastball, blowing 3 saves, and giving up 13 runs in 21 innings. With the season going well, the bullpen was on the verge of falling apart.
Enter Tyler Clippard.
Clippard who has been in the set up role for the Nationals since 2009 earned a spot on the NL All-Star team in 2011 and is making a bid to go back in 2012. Due to the injuries and hardships at the closer position this year, he has been placed into the role since mid May and has been nothing short of perfect. Clippard is 12 for 12 in save opportunities and has not allowed a single run while striking out 16 in 12 innings.
Age: 27 24
Nickname: The Vulture Tinkerbell
Career Saves: 13 48
Entrance Song: Ready or Not- Fugees Bad Company- Five Finger Death Punch
Storen is slated to be back after the All-Star break and seems confident in his situation. With his return, the Nats would have 5 right handed and just 2 left handed pitchers in the bullpen. Would they be willing to deal one of the two for a big bat to make a playoff push… or possibly another starter for when Strasburg gets shut down? Having two strong arms to close in the pen is a good problem to have and the role could also be shared with Clippard going back to doing spot work in middle relief.
Either way, with Davey’s formula for pitching, the Nats are putting up historic numbers. But I would not be surprised if one of these two players is not with the team after July 31st.