- The Washington Times - Monday, May 25, 2009

MINOR LEAGUE WATCH

The way right-hander Tyler Clippard is pitching at Class AAA Syracuse, it’s worth asking what more he has to do to be the next one in line for a spin on the Nationals’ bullpen carousel. He had a 1.50 ERA through Friday in 24 innings, and hitters had a .181 batting average against him.

Considering that Clippard was seen as a future rotation candidate at the beginning of last year and made two spot starts in the majors during the season, it’s worth asking whether acting general manager Mike Rizzo isn’t as high on him as former GM Jim Bowden was. But whatever the impression is of Clippard in the organization, he continues to make a strong case for himself.

STRASBURG WATCH

Providing your weekly dose of updates on San Diego State right-hander (and presumptive Nationals No. 1 pick) Stephen Strasburg:

FORT WORTH, Texas — Strasburg only rang up six strikeouts Wednesday against New Mexico in the Mountain West Conference tournament quarterfinals, but he was a picture of efficiency: He threw 50 pitches through five innings and was at just 83 through 7 2/3 when he came out of the game with a cramp in his lower back. Both Strasburg and coach Tony Gwynn said the right-hander was fine; he has had a history of back cramps and was getting dehydrated in the 90-degree weather.

“I was feeling it before [the eighth],” Strasburg said. “It tightened up, and it messed with my mechanics.”

But he had done enough to set the Aztecs up for a win; they held on for a 2-1 victory.

“He threw fine,” Gwynn said. “He was very efficient. He didn’t have the punch outs, but I felt like we were in good shape.”

Season stats:13-0, 1.24 ERA, 102 innings, 57 hits, 19 walks, 180 strikeouts

THE BUZZ

Tracking the Nationals’ news and trends from the last week:

OFFENSE [DOWN]

After two strong months, the first slump has arrived

YOUNG PITCHERS [UP]

Detwiler and Stammen start well as Zimmermann gets back on track

DANIEL CABRERA [DOWN]

Maybe the big righty can fix his career from the bullpen

FACEBOOK COMMENTARY [DOWN]

Bowden tells Nick Johnson the team’s bullpen is “friggin’ killing me”

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