Nationals closer Tyler Clippard was cruising along in his new role until the last few games. He had converted 14 of 14 save opportunities, but had one somewhat shaky outing in Miami.
Then, returning home, Clippard has allowed five runs in the last two games. On Wednesday, Clippard notched his 15th save by striking out the side in the ninth. But he also allowed a pair of solo homers to the Mets' David Wright and Jason Bay.
Clippard said that can happen when you go out and attack with fastballs in the ninth.
"In a three-run lead game like that, I wanted to stay aggressive," Clippard said. "I didn't want to walk anybody or allow anybody on base so (to) stay away from the big inning. I made a couple of bad pitches up in the zone out over the plate to some good hitters and they got me."
Clippard didn't believe familiarity had anything to do with why the Mets have been able to unleash five hits and five runs on him in the past two innings of work.
"I feel like I have been around long enough where most teams kind of know what to expect from me," Clippard said. "It is up to me to make the right pitches in the right situation to keep them off balance enough to not get comfortable in there."
But manager Davey Johnson felt Clippard might benefit from just having a day off because pitching almost every day can tax any pitcher, even if it is just one inning at a time.
"It can drain you," Johnson said. "I have had guys that had been doing it their whole life and say, 'Can I get a day off?'. He hasn't done that yet. I'd like to stay off him tomorrow."
So if Clippard is unavailable Thursday, who is Johnson's closer?
Johnson revealed he doesn't have a backup closer at this moment.
With Clippard struggling a bit, it appears to set up Drew Storen's activation from the disabled list after right elbow surgery. Now Johnson will have to decide which pitcher to move to make room for Storen, who is coming off one inning of shutout relief with two strikeouts at Single-A Potomac in his latest rehab outing.
Does Clippard think the stress of pitching every day has taken its toll on him physically and mentally?
"I don't think so, not for me," Clippard said. "I feel good mentally out there every time. I enjoy being out there in the ninth. It is a good thing for me mentally. Physically it has been OK. I have been feeling good."