07/21/12 8:52 PM ET
'Pen woes lead Davey to reevaluate strategies
By Mike Fiammetta / MLB.com
In the midst of seeing a 9-0 lead begin to disintegrate in the sixth inning, Johnson pulled a largely inefficient Stephen Strasburg after 5 1/3 innings for a combination of five different relievers.
Though he didn't elaborate on any specific moves, Johnson repeatedly expressed frustration with his bullpen decisions, calling it, "Arguably the worst game I've ever managed in my life."
"Well, I didn't sleep too good," Johnson said Saturday morning. "In penance for yesterday, I went and [ran] my two miles and cut about two minutes off it. Punished myself and tried to wipe out some memory banks and create some new brain cells in my head. I hope it works."
After Strasburg was responsible for four Braves scoring in the sixth, Mike Gonzalez threw 30 pitches in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. When Drew Storen relieved Gonzalez prior to the eighth inning, things quickly soured for the Nats' bullpen. Storen, in his second outing after starting the season on the disabled list, surrendered two runs on one hit and a walk without getting an out. Sean Burnett pitched the rest of the eighth, giving up two more runs on two hits and two walks.
The Nats still held a 9-8 lead entering the ninth inning, but that didn't hold for long once Tyler Clippard entered and walked Dan Uggla, who advanced to second on a wild pitch. Clippard proceeded to hit Paul Janish as Janish was attempting to bunt, then allowed a triple to Michael Bourn that scored Uggla and Janish two batters later. Tom Gorzelanny allowed the Braves' final run in the 11th, though it was unearned after Ryan Zimmerman's throwing error put Uggla on base to lead off the frame.
Despite wearing through so many relievers, Johnson said he would not push Edwin Jackson any further than normal when he starts Game 1 of the doubleheader. Johnson said he would reconsider the structure of his bullpen, however.
"Part of my problem is that with the different closers, it changes the setup guys and all that kind of stuff," Johnson said. "I haven't been pleased with the way I've had to set it up the last month or so. Part of that leads to the problem that we had yesterday. That's because I went with what I thought was the best scenario rather than what's the best for the long haul."
Henry Rodriguez began the season as the Nats' closer, but his inefficiency and a brief stint on the disabled list paved the way for Clippard to take over in late May. Clippard excelled initially, collecting 14 saves in as many opportunities. But since picking up a loss with a one-run ninth inning against the Rockies on July 8, Clippard has struggled, blowing two of his three most recent save opportunities. In that trio of games, Clippard has allowed seven runs on six hits and three home runs.
"I just haven't been real sharp lately," Clippard said after Friday night's loss. "It's kind of just something you go through in a season."
Storen's return this week from April surgery to remove bone chips from his right elbow was expected to alleviate some of the stress on Clippard, though Storen has yet to reach 2011 form, when he notched 43 saves as the team's closer.
"It should make it easier, but I need to get him back to where he was last year," Johnson said when asked about Storen's return. "[Friday night] was a misguided little attempt to try to expedite that situation.
"My task going forward is to try to, with all the pieces here now, put it back into some semblance of order and use it that way."
Werth notches RBI single in rehab game
WASHINGTON -- Jayson Werth took another step forward in his recovery from a broken left wrist on Saturday night, going 1-for-3 with one RBI and a walk in his first rehab assignment with Class A Potomac.
Batting third and playing right field, Werth popped up to second base in the first inning and notched an RBI single in the second. He struck out swinging in the fourth before working a walk and scoring a run in the sixth.
The 33-year-old outfielder was initially slated to begin his rehab assignment on Friday, but inclement weather at Potomac pushed it back a day.
Werth broke the wrist diving for a ball in Philadelphia on May 6. Since the injury, he has been targeting a return date in early August. In 27 games with the Nats, Werth batted .276 with three home runs.
Lannan recalled as Nationals' 26th man
WASHINGTON -- Needing another pitcher to start the second game of Saturday's doubleheader with the Braves, the Nationals recalled left-hander John Lannan from Triple-A Syracuse to serve as their 26th man. The club also designated Xavier Nady for assignment after reinstating him from the 15-day disabled list.
Lannan, 27, led the Nationals in wins in 2011, posting a 10-13 record and a 3.70 ERA. He was also the team's Opening Day pitcher in 2009 and '10. At Triple-A Syracuse this year, he went 6-9 with a 4.89 ERA in 18 starts. His recall was based on a new rule that allows clubs to designate a 26th member of their active roster for a doubleheader.
After Edwin Jackson takes the mound for the Nats in the first game, Lannan will be pitching in his first game with the Nationals since Sept. 27, 2011, when he earned a no-decision, pitching six innings and allowing two runs on three hits of an eventual 3-2 loss to the Marlins in Florida. His last start in Nationals Park also came against the Marlins on Sept. 16, 2011, when he picked up the loss after surrendering three runs on eight hits in a 3-0 loss.
Lannan requested a trade shortly before Opening Day 2012 after it became apparent that he would not make the big league roster. But with Stephen Strasburg pitching under an innings limit this season, the Nats need another pitcher on tap once their ace is shut down.
"I expect him to throw well," manager Davey Johnson said. "He pitched good for me last year, won the most games for us. He's a competitor. I talked to him, he's looking forward to the chance to coming up here and helping us. He's had a tough row to hoe and I think he's handled it the right way."
Nady, meanwhile, batted .157 three home runs and six RBIs in 40 games with the Nats this year. He was placed on the disabled list on June 24 with right wrist tendinitis.
Since receiving a cortisone shot for his ailing right shoulder on June 24, Ryan Zimmerman is batting .378 with a 1.218 OPS and nine doubles, nine homers and 25 RBIs.
After Saturday, the Nats will be nine days into a stretch of 35 games in 34 days from July 13-Aug. 15.
Mike Fiammetta is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.