CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 09: Second baseman Danny Espinosa #18 of the Washington Nationals turns a double play on a ground ball hit by Alfonso Soriano #12 of the Chicago Cubs as Marlon Byrd #24 (R) slides into second base during the second inning at Wrigley Field on August 9, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Brian Kersey/Getty Images)
Joe Aiello from the Chicago Cubs site The View from the Bleachers wrote a few weeks back to see if I'd be willing to give them three things to look for from the Washington Nationals in the three-game season-opening series that starts today at 2:20 pm EDT with Stephen Strasburg on the mound against glove-waving right-hander Ryan Dempster. Opening Day is just a few hours away. Check out the article to see what I had to say about the importance of a healthy Adam LaRoche and a strong second season in D.C. for Jayson Werth in year two of his 7-year/$126M dollar deal. And here's what I had to say about what's going to happen in the ninth until Drew Storen comes off the DL:
The View From the Bleachers: Who closes if [Drew] Storen is not ready for Opening Day?
Federal Baseball: Bicep/tricep issues have limited 24-year-old Nats’ closer Drew Storen to just 2.0 IP this Spring after a heavy workload last year in a 43-save season. The Nationals were concerned enough to have Storen undergo an MRI, which revealed no structural damage, and they seem to think he’ll be fine, but there’s already talk about who will close if Storen is unavailable in the first few days/weeks of the season? The Nats signed 35-year-old Brad Lidge this winter, and though he’d be the logical/obvious choice, Davey Johnson seems to have a thing for 24-year-old flamethrower Henry Rodriguez. If the Nationals hand Rodriguez a lead late in one of these games it could get interesting. He has lights out stuff (a 100mph+ heater and a brutal knee-buckling slider) but he also led the league in wild pitches last year. That combination should make for some dramatic late innings.