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Posted at 07:42 PM ET, 08/07/2012

Davey Johnson sticking by Tyler Clippard as Nationals closer with Drew Storen back in the bullpen

After the Astros tied the game against him in the ninth inning last night, Tyler Clippard has blown three saves in 12 attempts since the all-star break. Manager Davey Johnson has no plans to take Clippard out of the closer role, which he has mostly excelled in since he took over in late May, even with Drew Storen back.

(Carolyn Kaster - AP)
Johnson will use Storen as a “backup” closer, to ensure Clippard stays fresh and does not have to pitch in three consecutive games. Storen played that role Sunday, saving his first game of 2012 after saving 43 in 2011.

“Right now, I’m comfortable with Clip or Storen closing,” Johnson said. “But Clip has had the hotter hand doing the brunt of the work. I’m not going to take anything away from him, because he’s been so good. I probably won’t have him go back to back to back with Storen around, but I might depending on what part of the lineup it is.”

Clippard has tailed off from the incredible start he had as a closer, when he allowed one earned run in 18 1/3 innings. Since the all-star break, Clippard has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings, a 6.43 ERA, with 21 strikeouts and eight walks.

It is a little harsh to look at a snippet of any relievers stats, because one bad outing can skew them badly. But closers operate with a miniscule margin for error, and Clippard has allowed at least one run in six of 14 appearances.

Clippard’s first downturn in an otherwise dominant season came just as Storen is returning. Still, Johnson is not concerned about Clippard looking over his shoulder.

“Not at all,” Johnson said. “Clip knows he’s done a good job. He’s done a good job setting up. He’s done a great job closing. The workload will merit what goes to Storen and what goes to Clip, and also what I’m feeling that day. A couple more games like last night, there’s no telling what I might do.”

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