PHILADELPHIA - Now that Davey Johnson is at the very least considering other options when it comes to the closer’s role, it’s probably worthwhile for us to take a look at the guys the Nationals’ skipper has to work with.
Henry Rodriguez’s struggles have caused Johnson to look for alternatives in save situations, and while the Nationals don’t have an obvious backup plan at this point, they do have some hurlers who Johnson could look to in the ninth inning.
Johnson has indicated he might go with a closer-by-committee, which would allow him to consider the following options:
Sean Burnett, LHP
This season: 0-0, 0.71 ERA, 2-for-2 in save opportunities, .182 batting average against
Career: 14-21, 3.68 ERA, 10 blown saves in 20 opportunities, .247 batting average against
Chances of getting save situations: Burnett is probably the leading candidate right now. He’s pitching very well, has some experience in the closer’s role with the Nats the last couple years and, while he’s tougher against lefties, can be effective against righties, as well.
Tyler Clippard, RHP
This season: 1-2, 3.32 ERA, 0-for-1 in save opportunities, .197 batting average against
Career: 23-14, 2.98 ERA, 19 blown saves in 20 opportunities, .198 batting average against
Chances of getting save situations: Clippard’s career numbers in the save department are somewhat misleading, because the vast majority of those blown saves have come prior to the ninth inning. The Nats love Clippard, but they feel their All-Star reliever is most important in the set-up role. It’s possible that gets adjusted now, but the Nats would prefer not to move Clippard from the eighth inning.
Ryan Mattheus, RHP
This season: 2-1, 2.25 ERA, .253 batting average against, 1.30 WHIP
Career: 4-3, 2.60 ERA, .238 batting average against
Chances of getting save situations: The timing of Mattheus’ foot injury is unfortunate, because he might be one of the more viable options in the ninth inning at this point, if healthy. Johnson feels Mattheus has closer stuff, although he has put 26 runners on in 20 innings this season.
Craig Stammen, RHP
This season: 3-0, 1.44 ERA, .200 batting average against, 0.92 WHIP
Career: 12-12, 4.62 ERA, .271 batting average against
Chances of getting save situations: Stammen has been far and away the Nats’ most consistent reliever this season. Previously a starter, the 28-year-old has excelled in both long and middle relief and has a ridiculous 27-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He could be very much in the mix for save chances, although he’s been invaluable in his current role as an innings-eater and bridge to the late innings.
Ryan Perry, RHP
This season: 1-0, 10.80 ERA, .357 batting average against, 1.80 WHIP
Career: 6-6, 4.34 ERA, two saves, seven blown saves, .257 batting average against
Chances of getting save situations: Perry has been hit-or-miss since getting called up a few weeks ago, and is unlikely to find himself in a save situation right now. He does have experience in the closer’s role, however, and has gone 16-of-20 in save opportunities at the minor league level over his career.