The Washington Nationals have removed right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano from the team's closer role. Washington will use a closer-by-committee from here on out. Soriano blew a three-run lead in the ninth inning of the Nationals' 9-8 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday night.
Before the All-Star break, Soriano had a 0.97 ERA in 37 appearances. Since then he has recorded a 6.98 ERA in 21 appearances. This season, he has blown seven saves in 38 opportunities. Five of those blow saves have come after the break. Also, Soriano has given up at least one run in seven of his last twelve appearances out of the bullpen.
"His fastball velocity is good, the command isn't quite where he wants it, certainly," Williams said about Soriano. "The slider, the depth of his breaking pitch, is not there right now."
The 34-year-old Soriano has been in the major leagues for thirteen seasons now, having stints with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Nationals. He has a record of 4-1 on the season to go along with a 3.04 ERA and 31 saves.
Relievers Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, Ross Detwiler and left-handed specialist Matt Thornton will all be considered as candidates to help close out games for the Nationals. Obviously, Clippard and Storen will be considered favorites to be in the closer role. Clippard has a 7-3 record this season along with a 2.04 ERA, one save and 74 strikeouts in 61 2/3 innings pitched. Storen has also pitched well this season, accumulating a 2-1 record with a 1.37 ERA with one save and 36 strikeouts in 46 innings pitched. In 2011, Storen had 43 saves with a 2.75 ERA in 75 1/3 innings. With his experience, Storen would be the most likely candidate to get most of the save opportunities in the ninth inning.