The Washington Times - April 21, 2012, 12:49PM

By Mike DeFabo
The Washington Times 

With closer Drew Storen rehabbing from elbow surgery, manager Davey Johnson has turned to Brad Lidge and Henry Rodriguez in the final frame. Most of the time, he’s alternated the two relievers.


But in the past two save opportunities, Johnson put the ball in Rodriguez’s hand. Could this be a sign that the 25-year-old who Johnson called the “new guy on the block” is the go-to closer?

“He made a lot of progress last year and earned the right to close some games,” Johnson said. “And certainly with his spring and his start this year, he’s certainly qualified to be a bona fide closer. 


“Certainly Lidge falls into that same category when he’s healthy,” Johnson said of the 35-year-old who has suffered from recent bouts of vertigo.

Though Davey Johnson has not committed to a single reliever in the closing role, he did say that he prefers Rodriguez’s fastball- change up sequence against lineups with more left handed hitters.

But in a Marlins lineup with only right handed and switch hitters, Lidge thinks it could be his turn to close.

“My guess is tonight’s my turn,” Lidge said. “I don’t know that, but that’s what I’m thinking.”

In eight games this season, Henry Rodriguez has a perfect 0.00 ERA, with nine strikeouts and six walks. 

“The way he’s throwing the ball too, he’s got a big future in this game,” Lidge said. “I think if they do have him close a few consecutive times, that wouldn’t surprise me. That would make sense. I don’t know if anyone’s even gotten to third base on the guy.”

Actually, one batter did reach third, but it was more a result of a poor throw to first than a bad pitch. Against the Mets on April 9, Ruben Tejada sacrificed, and Rodriguez’s throw to first tailed under second basemen Danny Espinosa’s glove, a play that would ultimately cost the Nationals the game.

Daniel Murphy made Rodriguez pay for the mistake with a single up the middle. Though it was the first hit allowed by the 25-year-old righty, it also turned into his lone unearned run as Mike Baxter came trotting home.