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Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard will be sharing roles

UPDATED at 6:55 p.m.

Since Drew Storen arrived with the Nationals in mid-May, the bullpen has settled into a best-case routine. Storen pitched the seventh, Tyler Clippard took the eighth and Matt Capps saved it in the ninth.

With Storen's recent surge and Clippard's recent slump, though, Manager Jim Riggleman will begin making them both more flexible in their roles, with Storen sometimes pitching the eighth and Clippard sometimes pitching the ninth.

"I think what we'll do is kind of see who's coming up," Riggleman said. "If we feel like this is a better match-up for Storen, Storen will take the seventh. If we feel like this is a better matchup for Clippard, let him take the seventh."

Riggleman had lately mixed his late-inning bullpen usage, but "we'll probably look at that even closer now," Riggleman said.

By allowing no runs in his last six appearances, including two scoreless innings Saturday, Storen lowered his ERA to 1.59. By allowing seven earned runs in his last four appearances before Sunday, Clippard increased his ERA to 2.72, more than a full run.

Storen's recent hot stretch owes to a mechanical adjustment. After reviewing his delivery from the wind-up and the stretch, Storen realized he was "too twisty" pitching out of the wind-up. In order to be more direct to the plate, he ditched the wind-up.

"That's the best thing about it," Storen said. "Being around the team every day, you get to make adjustments and kind of just tinker with things. I feel comfortable, but I'm always looking for that extra edge."

On Sunday, Clippard may also found an adjustment that puts him on track to regaining the form that made him one of baseball's best relievers for most of the year. Throwing before the game, Clippard felt himself veering to the left as he threw his pitches.

He corrected the glitch in his mechanics. In the game, he faced four batters, struck out three and retired them all. The outing, in a game that had basically already been lost, served exactly the purpose Riggleman hoped it would. Clippard, in a low-pressure setting, solved his issues.

"As a pitcher, once you're not going well, you're itching to get back out there," Clippard said. "I figured a few things out warming up for the game. I felt like myself out there today. I've been struggling to find it a little bit, but today was definitely a step in the right direction."

By Adam Kilgore  |  July 4, 2010; 4:22 PM ET
Categories:  Drew Storen  
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Next: Ryan Zimmerman's all-star chances

Comments

Do you mean seventh at the end of the second paragraph, not ninth?

Posted by: marathoner | July 4, 2010 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Now it really will be Clipp, Store and Save from the 7th inning on.

Posted by: Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_For_Me | July 4, 2010 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Everybody, get your @$$es over to mlb.com and vote for Zim for the NL All-Star team. Each vote requires entering a 5-digit "captcha", but that's the only limitation I encountered in voting.

Posted by: bertbkatz | July 4, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Seconding Bert, it's easy and this time around is unlimited, as far as I can tell.
Spent my time watching Sunday night baseball typing in the 5-number codes between pitches.

There were a lot of pitches...

Posted by: HotNats | July 5, 2010 12:58 AM | Report abuse

I agree! Spent my night typing numbers for Zim. Hope everyone does this also!

Posted by: NickfromGermantown | July 5, 2010 1:35 AM | Report abuse

I am always skeptical when pitchers "find a glitch" in their delivery that apparently explain all their recent bad outings, but Clipp's stuff is too good for him to stay bad.

Nice to have a fallback in Storen, though.

Posted by: CJArlington | July 5, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Do the Nats have any good catchers in their farm system? I love Pudge, but he's not going to be around forever and Nieves has to go.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 5, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Showing a little "mental dexterity" with the bullpen is a smart move, imo. Riggleman's got a good, deep bullpen to call on right now; That's a good thing, because the starters (excepting Livo & Strasburg) have been shaky, to say the least, leaving too many games in the hands of the bullpen.

FWIW, here's a rundown of the starting staff, ranked by % of Quality Starts (6IP, 3ER minimum).
- Livo: 12/16 (75%), 6.58IP/G, 1.26WHIP, .309OBA
- Strasburg: 3/6 (50%), 6.03IP/G, 1.06WHIP, .267OBA
- Olsen [DL]: 4/8 (50%), 5.38IP/G, 1.37WHIP, .324OBA
- Stammen: 6/14 (43%), 5.50IP/G, 1.48WHIP, .343OBA
- Atilano: 5/14 (36%), 5.45IP/G, 1.36WHIP, .336OBA
- Lannan [AA]: 5/14 (36%), 5.36IP/G, 1.85WHIP, .393OBA
- Martin: 2/6 (33%), 5.78IP/G, 1.30WHIP, .305OBA
- Others [Chico, Marquis, Mock]: 0/5 (0%), 3.33IP/G.

Posted by: BinM | July 5, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

@nick, bert, and other voters.
I love Zimmerman as much as anyone, but I won't be voting for Zim. He's a victim of his own performance, a numbers game, and Charlie Manuel's idiocy.

1) Performance. At the beginning of June, Zim was playing better than Wright and was probably even with Rolen. He has cratered, Wright has put himself in MVP contention. Zim avoids his June Swoon, and the Nats get at least another win or two in June.

2) Numbers game. Capps got voted on by the players. That gave the Nats one all-star. When you're a 70 win team, you don't get but so much extra consideration for borderline players making the team.

3) Manuel's idiocy. Infante is listed as a 3B. He's a part-time player for the Braves who Manuel's choosing as a utility guy. Zimmerman is clearly a better option than Infante.

Bottom line, though, is that Votto is in the MVP consideration and certainly deserves to go. Vote Votto. If you don't vote Votto, you're basically voting for Wagner because he's the "we need a lefty late in the game now that it counts" candidate and Braves fans will come out in numbers.

Posted by: souldrummer | July 5, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

@DandD:
The Nationals have Derek Norris (currently at HAR-AA) as a real 'prospect', who has some injury/defensive issues to resolve, but he's only 21. Jesus Flores (currently on DL, 25 y.o.) could be of value, if he ever gets healthy again. Everyone else is either replacement-value, 'Instutional filler', or untested, IMO.

Posted by: BinM | July 5, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Thanks, BinM. I assume they won't use Bryce Harper @ catcher, so it seems like one of their big holes. Nieves looks so uncomfortable at bat, like he's praying to get walked.

Posted by: DavidandDonald | July 5, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Nieves is a back up catcher. He doesn't play or hit much. But I don't think you want to put a prospect in that position, you want them to play a full schedule.

Posted by: markfromark | July 5, 2010 1:20 PM | Report abuse

Cousin got married in Southern Illinois just when Stras was pitching, so missed the show. When is his next day? Kind of not so sad he missed the All-Star Game, think he's under enough pressure as it is. Would be nice if we got him another NINE runs in a game...

Posted by: Nats_Lady | July 5, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

NATS_LADY I think his next start is this Friday. I've heard rumors that Lincecum may be his opposing pitcher. Good luck with 9 runs! Hopefully it will be a low scoring game and we won't need 9 to beat the Giants.

Posted by: CALSGR8 | July 5, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

@DandD:
Nieves is a below replacement value player at this point, imo. The fans like him (possibly the ultimate underdog) & he's apparently a good 'clubhouse guy', but he's never been good in terms of at-bat value. The issue is, until either Norris or Flores steps forward, the best the team has at CA are replacement value or lower, so Nieves stays on the roster for now.

Posted by: BinM | July 5, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Re. SS, yes, the Nats have been saying for some time that his next start would be on Friday, July 9 (with an extra day of rest).

However, in looking at the Giants site, Lincecum would not be lined up for that day. More likely it would be Matt Cain, who started yesterday. The Giants site shows the following probable pitchers for Monday through Thursday (in that order): Sanchez, Bumgarner, Lincecum, and Zito.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 5, 2010 2:28 PM | Report abuse

Of course, the days aren't set in stone, as rain delays (sure could use some of that wet stuff) and such could affect them.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | July 5, 2010 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Souldrummer is right that Votto has got to be on the All-Star team.
It's a huge snub that he's not on already.

Highest OPS in the whole NL.
Top 5 in:
AVG - 5th
OBP - 3rd
SLG - 2nd
HR - 2nd
RBI - 5th
Runs - 5th

How did Ryan Howard get picked over Votto?
Votto's OPS is 134 points higher than Ryan Howards!
Oh yeah, Howard's manager got to pick the subs.

BTW, one other factor perhaps working in Ryan Zimmerman's favor to make the All Star team...Chase Utley will get dropped (and Heyward might too).

Posted by: Sunderland | July 5, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@sould:
I hear you and believe, like you, that RZim is at best the #3 3B in the NL so far in 2010; Rolen & Wright have earned the All-Star nominations this year.

If any other National player deserves the All-Star gig this year, it would be Willingham, imo.

Posted by: BinM | July 5, 2010 2:38 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland:
Howard was 2nd in the 'fan vote', IIRC (damned Piillies' fans), so you can't pin that wholly on Charley Manuel. Both Utley & Heward are clear-cut injuries, with replacements to be named later for the National League; Maybe the Nats will pick up a 2nd player there.

Posted by: BinM | July 5, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

BinM, I don't get what Howard coming in 2nd in fan voting has to do with it.
Pujols came in first, so he starts.

After that, the players / coaches / managers from the NL vote, and select one backup for each of the starters.

I don't know whether Howard got that spot, but it's was either him or Adrian Gonzalez.

And the players / coaches did pick Howard, then Manuel is indeed in the clear.

Likely he then picked Adrian Gonzalez to be the Padres sole All Star.

If anyone knows of a web site that lists the All-Star team and how a player made the team (fan vote, player / coach vote, manager selection), please post it for us. Much appreciated.

Not that any of this really matters....

Posted by: Sunderland | July 5, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Found it
http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/2010-All-Star-rosters-070410

Adrian Gonzalez was the player / coaches vote for 1B.

So Manuel did indeed pick Howard over Votto. Not unusual, but lame.

Posted by: Sunderland | July 5, 2010 3:31 PM | Report abuse

@Sunderland:
As a Mananger, I'd think the 'level of trust' falls to your teams player, rather than someone else. Hence, Howard over everyone not named Pujols for Manuel, h-mm?

Posted by: BinM | July 5, 2010 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Agreed that this is accepted and normal MLB manager behavior. And Manuel and the Phillies earned this right by playing in late October.

Still, Votto obviously deserves to be there (and one way or another I'm confident he will be there).

Just you and me this afternoon, eh B?

Posted by: Sunderland | July 5, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Chase Utley's replacement has already been named - Brandon Phillips, CIN. Troy Tulowitzki's replacement has also been named - Jose Reyes, NYM. Jason Heyward's replacement has not yet been named, but you would have to assume it will be an outfielder.

Posted by: nunof1 | July 5, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

As we head toward the break how close is Flores toward making a rehab assignment at AA/AAA? and i see where JZimm pitched at Potomac. I've often wondered how those two might have changed the fortunes of this team for the first half. I had a conversation with Phil Wood(nat's talk live) yesterday discussing Steve McCatty and Rick Eckstein, a little surprised when Phil took exception to me calling Manny Acta inept,Phil took up for Manny citing that Acta didn't have to wait long for a job in the off season. I'm hoping that this team will close out the first half on a winning note against the Padres/Giants.Bud Black gets my vote as Mgr.of the year, man how are those guy's doing it? Black has them playing at a high level not a lot of offense but stellar pitching and great defense.

Posted by: dargregmag | July 5, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

dargregmag, you need to quit calling Nats Talk Live. Every time you do you get pwned.

Posted by: nunof1 | July 5, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

BinM, can you tell me which of Stras's starts were not quality starts, other than Saturday? Atlanta's runs weren't all earned, were they? Thank you

Posted by: paulkp | July 5, 2010 10:52 PM | Report abuse

paulkp - Strasburg had 2 starts where he did not make it to 6 innings, so those 2 do not qualify as quality starts.
And in the Atlanta game he was charged with 4 earned runs.

So, 6 starts, 3 quality starts.

Posted by: Sunderland | July 6, 2010 7:04 AM | Report abuse

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