If the Nationals had made it through the 10th inning of last night's game with the Braves, and Doug Slaten had finished a third scoreless inning, manager Jim Riggleman said Rule 5 pick Brian Broderick would have pitched the 11th inning had the game stayed tied. And if the Nationals had taken the lead, Drew Storen would have come on for the save.
Where does that leave Henry Rodriguez, the fireballing right-hander who the Nationals thought could be a possible setup man or closer when they got him from Oakland in the Josh Willingham trade last December? At the moment, it seems the Nationals don't trust him anywhere near enough to put him in that role.
In Rodriguez's last outing, he walked three batters, threw two wild pitches and had just nine strikes in his 27 pitches. That was on May 8, and the Nationals haven't used him since.
"Henry has had a couple good bullpen sessions in the last four or five days," Riggleman said. "(Pitching coach) Steve McCatty's had him down there. He and (bullpen coach) Jimmy Lett said he's really made some progress since the appearance in Florida. We've just got to get him in there. I've just got to say, 'You know what? This guy's too talented to not use him, and I'm looking forward to getting him in there.' "
The problem lately has been that the Nationals have been tied or ahead in so many games, they've given most of their relief work to Storen, Sean Burnett, Tyler Clippard and Todd Coffey. Rodriguez clearly hasn't earned the trust to pitch in close games, and lately, that's meant few opportunities to work.
"If we are tied or winning late and Clippard and Burnett and Storen are all available to pitch, it would be them," Riggleman said. "That's kind of the way every team in baseball does it; you have guys you use when you're tied or winning, and you have guys you use when you're not tied or winning."