5/17/2014 4:15 P.M. ET
After slow start, Clippard riding scoreless streak
By Benjamin Standig / MLB.com
WASHINGTON -- Tyler Clippard took the modest route when asked about his recent run of pitching prowess before Saturday's game against the Mets. Smart, let the numbers speak for themselves.
The Nationals right-handed reliever hasn't allowed an earned run since before Tax Day. After surrendering a run on April 11 at Atlanta, he's gone 14 straight appearances -- 11 2/3 innings -- without allowing an earned run. In that span, Clippard has struck out 13 and given up just eight hits.
"I feel like it's kind of more of the same from what I've done in past seasons," Clippard said less than 24 hours after holding the Mets scoreless during his one inning of relief in Washington's 5-2 series opening win. "No better, no worse, just trying to stay the course of who I am."
Clippard (4-2, 1.96 ERA) didn't start out this season dominating, allowing a run in four of his first seven appearances. What's changed?
"Right now, I've been able to have a little better fastball command than I did in April," the seven-year veteran said. "My changeup has been better too. Those are obviously two pitches I throw a lot. When those are good, I'm usually OK."
LaRoche pleasantly surprised by quad progress
WASHINGTON -- Adam LaRoche still needs to test his strained right quad when it comes to running. But in terms of stretching, the Nationals first baseman told reporters on Saturday he was surprised by how good he felt.
Placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to May 10, LaRoche is eligible to return on May 25.
"He's got to pass some tests still. He hasn't been full speed yet ... but it seems to be OK," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "[The injury] has diminished somewhat and is down to one little spot kind of in the hip flexor/quad area. He was in the pool yesterday. He'll continue to do all that stuff ... so, yeah, looks good."
Usually a slow starter at the plate during his career, LaRoche is batting .319 with five home runs and 21 RBIs in 32 games this season.
Stepping in for LaRoche at first base, Tyler Moore has hit in four straight games, batting .357 with a home run and five RBIs in that stretch.
Nats witness ideal late-game bullpen scenario
WASHINGTON -- The Nationals' bullpen performance over the final three innings of Friday's 5-2 win over the New York Mets worked out perfectly in more ways than one.
Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano worked the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, each shutting out Washington's NL East rival.
"That's the way we set out to do it," Nationals manager Matt Williams said. "Last night was an example of how we want to do it if we have the lead."
For all kinds of usage and game-situation reasons, the order of appearances won't always be the same, though Soriano is locked into the closer's role. But if the Nats are looking at an ideal bullpen situation, this is it.
"It was set in Spring Training," Williams said before Saturday's middle game of a three-game set with the Mets. "We can mix and match a little depending on workload and who may be available or not available. The good thing about it is we have three guys with experience closing and they're interchangeable, with the exception of [Soriano], probably in 7 or 8."
Also ideal, Washington's collective 2.21 ERA out of the bullpen. For all of Major League Baseball, only the San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants have proven stingier in relief.
Benjamin Standig is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.