The double-switch is frequently used tactic by Manager Jim Riggleman, but it’s done, he said, more out of necessity than preference. With roles still uncertain in the Nationals bullpen, Riggleman has found he needs to have relievers throw more than one inning, forcing him to move the pitcher’s spot in the batting order.
“We want to get it to a point … so we don’t have to be doing the double-switching and have somebody finish an inning and make sure he can pitch the next one,” Riggleman said. “We don’t want to be doing that. We want to get it to the point where if we need somebody in the seventh, we know who it is. If we need somebody in the eighth, we know who it is. If we need somebody in the ninth, we know who it is.”
Riggleman used as an ideal the 2010 San Diego Padres, who locked the down the final three innings with an unrelenting routine Luke Gregerson in the seventh, Mike Adams in the eighth, Health Bell in the ninth.
For Riggleman and the Nationals, it is a matter of figuring out who fits what role, and also coaxing five or six consistent innings of their starting pitchers. Sean Burnett, Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard have all been excellent, combing on a 0.61 ERA early in the season. Thursday night, Storen and Clippard each through two innings, both so efficient they are available tonight.
Riggleman also sees Todd Coffey as a possibility to pitch in the late innings. Before he makes a final decision, he wants to wait for a larger sample size of success. “I’ve got to see we’re going to get some consistent performances from those guys,” Riggleman said.
He also has yet to decide on a full-time closer. Burnett has closed both the Nationals’ victories, but Wednesday night, for example, Riggleman would have tried to use Storen for a two-inning save had the Nationals scored in the eighth inning rather than brining in Burnett, simply because Storen was throwing so well.
“I want to see a little bit more of what Clippard and Storen did last night,” Riggleman said. “If we can continue that type of performance, we’ve got something.”