Clippard officially named closer, Lidge to set up

BOSTON - File this in the "duh department," but Tyler Clippard is the Nationals' closer.

That's been perfectly clear considering the way manager Davey Johnson has handled his team's save opportunities since he announced he was going to a closer-by-committee two-and-a-half weeks ago. The Nationals have had five save chances, and all have gone to Clippard.

But today, for the first time, Johnson actually referred to Clippard as his closer. The Nats' skipper also said that Brad Lidge, who was activated off the DL yesterday following over a five-week absence due to hernia surgery, will be used in a set-up role.

Lidge had served as a co-closer along with Henry Rodriguez prior to going on the DL.

"I know Bradley can close ballgames," Johnson said, apparently deciding that he's going to start calling Lidge by his full first name. "I'll probably keep him in that group with (Sean) Burnett and my closer, Clippard. Keep him in that threesome there.

"Hopefully I'll get a lot of work for Clippard, and he'll need some relief."

Clippard clearly has been pitching well lately, but I wasn't sure exactly how dominant he's been until looking at the numbers.

Over his last 16 appearances, covering 15 2/3 innings, Clippard has allowed just one run and only three hits.

Opponents are batting (and slugging) just .063 off him during that time, and he's still yet to allow a hit since getting his first save chance back on May 22.

Johnson also said that reliever Ryan Mattheus' simulated game today went "very well." He's on track to possibly pitch in a rehab game on Sunday.

Tough news to pass along regarding infielder Mark DeRosa: His rehab assignment has been postponed because DeRosa went back to be with his ailing father, who is in the hospital and has taken a turn for the worse. DeRosa had been scheduled to go to Single-A Potomac today.

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