As Nationals’ bullpen struggles, Tyler Clippard remains a rock

But perhaps Clippard’s most impressive quality is his consistency. Relieving is a fickle business. Perhaps the most fickle of any job on a major league roster. Plenty of shutdown relievers come off a breakout year and prove just how hard it is to do by struggling in the next.

Over the past three seasons, there are few in the major leagues who have been less volatile. Few who have done what he has, at as high a level as he has, on a near nightly basis.

“He’s the most consistent pitcher I’ve had in some time,” Johnson said. “And his numbers are off the charts.”

As the Nationals head into the season’s final month hoping to continue to chip their way back into playoff contention, they know they’re going to continue to need him. Johnson mentioned Thursday he planned on leaning on Clippard “heavily” down the stretch.

To most inside the clubhouse that comes as no surprise, and there’s no one they’d rather see with more work placed on his shoulders. The thought of where they’d be without him is not one they’d like to pursue.

“Without him,” Stammen said, letting out a laugh and shaking his head. “We’d be in a lot of bad spots.”

NOTES: The Nationals will not bring Stephen Strasburg back on short rest to start Sunday night’s game against the New York Mets, Johnson said Thursday. Strasburg threw just 22 pitches before rain ended his start Wednesday. But because the Nationals would prefer not to alter Strasburg’s usual routine, Johnson said the team will likely start Ross Ohlendorf, or, if he is not needed in relief before then, rookie Tanner Roark.

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