MILWAUKEE — One of the key decisions by Nationals manager Jim Riggleman in his team’s 7-6 loss to the Brewers on Tuesday night was to pitch Henry Rodriguez with one out in the eighth inning, his team clinging to a one-run lead.
The decision didn’t work out for the Nationals then, but it won’t stop Riggleman from using his hard-throwing right-hander in the role more often. Riggleman said today he expects to use Rodriguez and Tyler Clippard as his seventh and eighth inning guys interchangeably, saving Drew Storen for the ninth and allowing Sean Burnett to be used when necessary situationally.
“To cut to the chase, I’ve got a guy throwing 100 miles an hour down there ready to pitch in the eighth inning,” Riggleman said. “And he’s going to pitch and they’re going to have to beat him.”
“We’re trying to go seven, eight, nine,” he said. “That’s the ideal situation and then have Burnett get the necessary out somewhere like he did (Tuesday) on a left-hander. We’re moving toward that and I think we’re getting closer to it.”
It’s an interesting shift from where the Nationals were when they broke from spring training with Burnett and Storen set to share the closing duties and Clippard serving as the main setup man. Cole Kimball, who is a similar power thrower to Rodriguez, could also be used in setup situations.