Davey Johnson still tweaking relief usage as the Nationals bullpen improves

Toni L. Sandys/TWP

Toni L. Sandys/TWP

The Nationals’ early bullpen issues seem to have been scuttled lately. After a 1-2-3 save yesterday, closer Rafael Soriano has converted five straight save chances and hasn’t allowed a run in his last six appearances. Since the Nationals’ bullpen ERA sat at 6.34 after 10 games, Nationals relievers have posted a collective 2.27 ERA in the 15 games since. Enigmatic Henry Rodriguez has been particularly encouraging, allowing two his in his last five innings.

Still, Manager Davey Johnson is feeling comfortable quite yet. “It hasn’t been as consistent,” he said. He believes “when the starting pitching gets to doing the things they’re capable of,” he’ll be able to align the bullpen more how he envisions.

Mainly, Johnson wants to split up set-up Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard, allowing them each to work mostly on a one-day-on, one-day-off schedule. So far this season, Storen and Clippard have pitched in the same game four times, including yesterday.

“I don’t have them divided the way I wanted,” Johnson said. “Ideally, I don’t want to use Clip and Storen on the same day. Ideally, I want to separate them and have them pitch the eighth or the ninth. A lot of time when I don’t go to those guys, it affects their performance and they get a little bit out of sync. But I like the way the bullpen is shaping up.”

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