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Nats' taxed bullpen gets break in series finale

Williams had considered pitching Roark had Strasburg endured short start
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- When Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann lasted only 1 2/3 innings in his start on Wednesday night against the Marlins, it put the club's bullpen in a tough spot. If Washington's relievers had needed to soak up significant innings again on Thursday, it would have forced manager Matt Williams into some difficult decisions.

Fortunately for the Nats, that didn't become an issue, as Stephen Strasburg was efficient in shutting down the Marlins over 6 2/3 strong innings of a 7-1 win. Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett -- the only two Nats relievers not to pitch on Wednesday -- followed Strasburg, and Rafael Soriano closed it out.

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WASHINGTON -- When Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann lasted only 1 2/3 innings in his start on Wednesday night against the Marlins, it put the club's bullpen in a tough spot. If Washington's relievers had needed to soak up significant innings again on Thursday, it would have forced manager Matt Williams into some difficult decisions.

Fortunately for the Nats, that didn't become an issue, as Stephen Strasburg was efficient in shutting down the Marlins over 6 2/3 strong innings of a 7-1 win. Jerry Blevins and Aaron Barrett -- the only two Nats relievers not to pitch on Wednesday -- followed Strasburg, and Rafael Soriano closed it out.

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Long man Craig Stammen, who tossed 3 1/3 innings the night before, likely was unavailable for the game, according to Williams. Setup men Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard already had pitched two days in a row, and Williams also preferred not to use lefty Ross Detwiler for a second straight day.

In the event of a short start by Strasburg or a long extra-inning game, Williams would have considered turning to righty Tanner Roark as a long reliever, even though Roark is scheduled to start on Friday in Atlanta.

"We have the ability to go to Tanner, if we have to," Williams said before the game. "We hope that's not the case. If we do, he would be available potentially for us long if it gets to that. The best-laid plans are that that doesn't happen. [Soriano's] good. The back end of the bullpen is good. They're taxed, but they're good. But if it gets to a situation like we had yesterday, then our long guy today, we'd look to Tanner, potentially."

Had that become necessary, the Nats would have considered bringing an extra pitcher to Atlanta for Friday's series opener there. However, Williams said after Thursday's win that no roster move was in the works.

"We're good," the manager said. "We made it through today, and I think we'll be OK."

After remaining in the bullpen on Thursday, Detwiler still has not pitched in back-to-back games in his career. Before the game, Williams had sounded reluctant to use the converted starter in that way.

"We'd like to stay away from him if we could," Williams said. "But you don't know what's going to happen in the course of a game. So we'll evaluate that at the time. In a perfect world, I wouldn't want to get him in a game today, but you never know."

Detwiler, who has pitched five scoreless innings across three appearances this season, said that he would be ready to go on consecutive days, as long as he felt good after playing catch before the game.

"You just have to communicate," Detwiler said. "It's never, 'Oh, I'm good to go today.' You're always up until you tell them you can't go."

Andrew Simon is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

 

Washington Nationals