Johnson: Nationals will go with two closers

Johnson: Nationals will go with two closers

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals are going to use both Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen in the closer's role, manager Davey Johnson said before Friday's series opener with the Brewers.

"I told [pitching coach Steve McCatty] that I have confidence in both of them closing, and depending upon the rest, situation or matchup, either one of them could be going eighth, [and] the other one ninth, if I like the way the matchups are," Johnson said.

Storen closed last year and finished with a 6-3 record and 43 saves. But elbow troubles forced him to have surgery this spring, keeping the right-hander out for the first half. He entered the series opener 2-1 with a 2.59 ERA in 31 games since returning.

Storen earned his third save of the season in Thursday's playoff-spot-clinching victory over the Dodgers, striking out the side in a powerful performance. Storen was 1-1 with an 0.96 ERA in 11 September games entering play Friday.

But when Storen was out, the closer's job eventually landed in Clippard's hands. He'd been a solid setup man, even earning an All-Star appearance last year, but Johnson kept things as they were when Storen returned, leaving Clippard in the closer's role.

Clippard began Friday with a 2-5 mark and 32 saves, with a 3.22 ERA, pitching well in the closer's role, although struggling at times lately, going 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA in 30 games since the All-Star break prior to Friday. He'd converted 18 of 21 saves since the break, while he nailed down 14 saves in 15 chances before the break.

The bottom line, however, is Johnson's now got two closers. He'll still use Sean Burnett late, but with Storen all the way back from his elbow surgery, the skipper's now got two options, and he'll see where his information takes him.

"I'm not going to re-arrange the whole bullpen," Johnson said. "They're still my late-inning guys, and both of them are great closers. I'll mix and match."