Heading into 2012 the Washington Nationals had the utmost faith that Drew Storen would be effective as the team’s closer. Unfortunately, Storen would save just four games in 2012 after a season in which he recorded an impressive 37 saves.
Storen was sidelined due to a bone chip in his elbow and would not pitch in a game until July 19th. Meanwhile, Tyler Clippard made the most out of his opportunity nailing home 32 saves in Storen’s absence with a 3.72 ERA. Although he was not perfect, Clippard was thrown into the closer role after pitching as a reliever for six straight MLB seasons.
To make things even more complicated, the Nats signed Rafael Soriano to a two-year deal worth $15M after he notched 42 saves with the New York Yankees in 2012. Soriano has the most saves out of the three and is the favorite to land the job as the team’s closer.
Needless to say, manager Davey Johnson has his hands full with this bullpen.
Soriano’s move did not go over well with Storen as he said he was “caught off guard” when he found out via Twitter that Soriano was going to be joining the team this season. You have to think things are pretty hectic in Washington as any one of these three could be getting the nod at closer this year.
I think Johnson will stick Clippard back in the late-reliever role where he was so effective in two straight seasons prior to getting thrust into the closer role. In fact, Clippard had a fantastic year in 2011 when he was an All-Star pitching in 72 games with a 1.73 ERA and finished the season with a perfect 3-0 record. Storen can easily be slotted into a set-up role as he still is recovering from an injury that is rather serious.
The Nationals struck gold with this talent in their bullpen, but the toughest part is making sure all of these pieces fit just right.