Thursday, Lidge came on in the top of the ninth with a 2-0 lead and gave up a one-out walk to Joey Votto and a double to Scott Rolen. After intentionally walking Jay Bruce, Ryan Ludwick singled, and just like that, the score was tied.
Even though the Nats won in the 10th on a wild pitch, that performance, plus Rodriguez’s rough night in New York on Monday (a throwing error in a 4-3 loss), calls the closer combo into question. Of course, both are being asked to fill very different roles than they were expecting just a few weeks ago, but after Thursday’s blown save, Lidge didn’t want to use that as an excuse.
The Post Sports Live crew debates which current injured National, outfielder Michael Morse or closer Drew Storen, is more important for the team's long term success.
“I feel good about what they want me to do,” he said. “Henry and I have to step up. We have a deep pen.”
Morse’s loss probably will be felt more deeply, even if he can return in six weeks. The Nats failed to land an everyday center fielder in the offseason, and they also failed to land a power hitter. To lose the player who led the team in homers (31) and RBI (95) a year ago is a tremendous blow. In the past, the Nats would have filled the hole by committee and made the best of it. In the past, however, expectations of playoff contention were not a part of the equation.
Roger Bernadina has started six of the first seven games in center field and is batting .125. The Nats had just four homers entering Friday’s game, two from a somewhat unexpected source, Adam LaRoche, whose defensive skills at first base are the more lauded aspect of his game. (He also has eight RBI.) The expected source of power, Jayson Werth, had no homers, although he is starting to hit. But the Nats need everyone to produce, from Danny Espinosa (.182) to Ryan Zimmerman (.192).
The Nats can’t count on winning on wild pitches every night. Because of the strength of their rotation and bullpen, the Nats can afford to have less than the best offense in the National League. But they can’t afford to have one of the worst offenses in the National League. That’s asking too much of a young rotation and a Storen-less bullpen.
At one point during his pregame talk, Johnson wondered aloud why the assembled media couldn’t come up with questions not related to injuries. When one reporter said, “We’re concerned about Morse,” Johnson replied, “We all are.”
And not without reason.
For Tracee Hamilton’s previous columns, go to washingtonpost.