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The Nationals are in a position where they need to be confident in their pitcher at the end of the game. All three appeared ready to answer the call when the phone rings.

“If you’re a bullpen guy in the big leagues, in my opinion, you want to be a closer,” Clippard said. “That’s the premier job as a bullpen guy. If you’re not going to be a starter, you might as well want to do that.

“There’s no secret. It’s the kind of natural progression of anybody’s career. You want to be the best at what you do. In my opinion, the guys who are the best at what they do in the bullpen usually get closers jobs.”

Notes: Ryan Zimmerman was a late scratch Tuesday as a “manager’s decision.” A spokesman said the third baseman likely would be available to pinch hit. Zimmerman appeared to be fine pre-game in the clubhouse. Chad Tracy, who turned 32 on Tuesday, took his place. Zimmerman missed 13 games earlier this season with inflammation in his right AC joint.