Washington Nationals: Tyler Clippard to Remain Nats' Closer; Drew Storen Reacts

Michael NargiSenior Analyst IJune 24, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 02:  Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals pitches in the ninth inning to earn the save against the Atlanta Braves in a 2-0 victory at Nationals Park on June 2, 2012 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images

Tyler Clippard is a perfect 12-for-12 since he took the reins as the closer for the Washington Nationals on May 22. 

Even more impressive is that entering Sunday, Clippard has allowed only one hit in 13.1 innings while striking out 16 and not allowing a run—a dominant line to say the least.

His amazing stretch has not gone unnoticed, as Nats manager Davey Johnson has made it known that Clippard is his ninth-inning man. Johnson told The Washington Post“Right now he’s my closer, and the way he’s going I can’t see going to somebody else. They’d have to show me up here probably in a setup role before they have the opportunity to close.”

2011 closer Drew Storen is getting close to returning from elbow surgery. He had expected to be closing again upon his return, but with the emergence of Clippard, he will have to wait.

Mark Zuckerman of Nats Insider reported Storen's reaction to the news that Clippard will be the closer when Storen eventually returns:

It's fine. He's supporting the guys who have gotten this team to where it's at. Tyler's been that guy. He's been that guy for the 2-3 years he's been here. He's supporting him. I know when I come back, I'm going to be good, [but] I'm going to need to get my feet wet and I think it will be good for the acclimation of it.

In the end, I have all the confidence in the world I can close games. Since day one, since I had surgery, I told myself I was going to come back better. And I believe that wholeheartedly. If people doubt, hopefully I'll prove them wrong. I know I will. I know how baseball is. It's what have you done for me lately? And the fact of the matter is, I haven't done anything this year.

Storen saved 43 games last season for the Nats and can be a vital piece of this bullpen going forward. If he shows the same dominance that he showed last season, the Nats will once again have a dominant one-two punch in the eighth and ninth innings.