If the Nationals end up in a save situation tonight, it's likely Sean Burnett wouldn't pitch. But that's got more to do with the fact the reliever has worked three days in a row than anything else; his four-run ninth inning last night, much of which was constructed on bloop base hits and poor defense, didn't affect it.
Manager Jim Riggleman said the Nationals will continue to approach the Nationals' save situations on a case-by-case basis. Drew Storen has converted his last three save situations, while Burnett has allowed six runs in his last seven innings. But Riggleman isn't leaning toward one as his closer.
"I don't think I even want to use the word," Riggleman said. "I just want to get outs in the ninth. Let's finish the game, get outs. I'm not going to get too caught up in who gets the save. I just want us to get the save."
Riggleman did say he would consider using Burnett earlier in the game if there was a stretch of left-handers, but that isn't much different than what he said in spring training about how he wanted to handle the late innings of games.
"If it's a situation where it's predominantly right-hander, definitely it would be Drew," Riggleman said. "If it's predominantly left-handed, I would want to have Burnie there, but what I would also want to do is not eliminate Burnie from being available in the seventh or eighth. Those guys who come up in the ninth are going to come up in the seventh. If I feel the need to put a left-hander in at that point, that could be Burnie, and he obviously would not pitch seven, eight and nine."
Henry Rodriguez's presence could change the mix somewhat; Riggleman said he wanted to get the right-hander his first appearance in a lower-pressure situation, but then said with Tyler Clippard having thrown more than 30 pitches last night and Burnett having pitched three days in a row, Rodriguez and Todd Coffey could find themselves in setup-type roles tonight.