Johnson discusses 2-1 win and a potential change to Nats rotation

Ross Ohlendorf improved to 3-0 on the season with today’s 2-1 Nationals win, this after the veteran righty allowed just one run over five-plus innings, lowering his ERA to 2.49.

What did it get him?

Well, it might have gotten him knocked from the Nats rotation.

Tough crowd.

Ohlendorf was pulled by manager Davey Johnson just one batter into the sixth inning tonight, having thrown only 78 pitches. He surrendered a leadoff homer to Christian Yelich in the sixth, and then saw Johnson emerge from the dugout. The Nats skipper turned to right-hander Tanner Roark, who came on and walked two batters before striking out two and getting out of the sixth.

The radar gun readings on the four pitches Ohlendorf threw in the sixth: 81 mph, 80 mph, 83 mph, 85 mph. All were fastballs that just didn’t have juice. Ohlendorf said afterward that was intentional. Johnson didn’t think so.

“Well, he’s done that now several times,” Johnson said, when asked if Ohlendorf hit a wall after the fifth. “I was kind of ready for it with Roark. (Ohlendorf) just kind of ran out of gas, like he did before. But you never know with him because he puts a lot on it. Other times it’s like he’s changing up off his fastball. But when he takes 10 miles (per hour) off, he gets to scaring me a little bit.

“I had Roark warming up when we were hitting in the bottom of the fifth. But I was hoping I could get through that inning, but ...”

If Ohlendorf is bumped back to the bullpen, the Nats would go with Roark as their new fifth starter. Johnson has said he wants to see Roark in a starting role before the end of this season.

“That’s probably where we’re going to do,” Johnson said. “But I’ll make that decision probably tomorrow.”

Despite all of that, Ohlendorf’s first five innings were pretty solid. He allowed just two hits through five and took a 2-0 lead into the sixth before serving up the Yelich homer. The Nats are now 4-0 in games he’s started this season.

“I think he was great,” Johnson said. “Made pitches, threw some good breaking balls. Big difference between his breaking balls, although some of the locations I wasn’t so keen on. But kept us right in there. We didn’t score a whole lot.”

No they didn’t, outside of the two runs they pushed across in the first on a Jayson Werth RBI groundout and an Ian Desmond RBI single.

Then it was up to the bullpen, which delivered four scoreless innings, with just one hit and two walks allowed. Drew Storen came on and worked a perfect seventh with one strikeout, Tyler Clippard mowed down the top of the Marlins order 1-2-3 and Rafael Soriano worked around a two-out single to get his 34th save.

Clippard notched two strikeouts in the eighth, including a three-pitch punchout of Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. All three Clippard pitches were fastballs, blown by Stanton.

“Clippard had the heavy load, that one,” Johnson said. “He’s been doing it all year. He’s been doing it ever since I’ve been here.”

Johnson was asked if he considered leaving Clippard in for the ninth given how good Clippard has been and how shaky Soriano has been lately.

“No. No. No. Not making that change,” Johnson said. “May leave that for somebody else.”

Regardless of the discussion about possible shakeups in the rotation and the back end of the bullpen, the Nats picked up their 12th win in their last 17 games.

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