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Posted at 12:48 PM ET, 04/15/2012

Without Drew Storen, the Nationals’ bullpen is holding steady

Drew Storen could move his right arm freely today, free from the sling he had worn since undergoing surgery Wednesday to remove bone chips from his elbow. The sling hung on a hook next to his locker.

“It’s a grim reminder of how far I’ve come,” Storen deadpanned as Tyler Clippard, Storen’s roommate, stood next to him.

“Dude,” Clippard said, “You wore that thing for literally one day.”

So, yeah, Storen has stayed in high spirits. Without him, the Nationals’ bullpen has blown one ninth-inning lead and let a ninth-inning tie turn into a walk-off loss. Closing games remains an issue, but keeping the lead in middle innings has been automatic. The bullpen has posted a 1.98 ERA, third in the majors, while allowing one of seven inherited runners to score.

Edwin Jackson made the bullpen obsolete yesterday with his 92-pitch complete game, a performance that lowered the rotation’s ERA to 1.75, the best in the majors. But the night before, the bullpen provided six scoreless innings.

(Patrick Semansky - AP)
“Our bullpen is our key,” starter Gio Gonzalez said. “If we don’t have our bullpen, this rotation is not going to look as pretty as it looks.”

Said left-handed long reliever Tom Gozelanny, who’s thrown 4 2/3 scoreless innings this year: “The biggest thing is, we expect each other to go out there to go out there and do what we’ve been doing. It’s definitely not surprising. We’ve got some guys out there that are really good.”

By  |  12:48 PM ET, 04/15/2012

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