Washington Nationals' Manager Davey Johnson Knows What He's Got In His Pen: Johnson On Rafael Soriano's Start

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Rafael Soriano continued the D.C. closer tradition of "making it interesting" in last night's win over the Chicago White Sox, but the Washington Nationals' 33-year-old reliever got the job done and untucked his jersey after he earned the save in the Nats' 8-7 win in the first game of three for the Sox in Washington, D.C.

Over 11+ seasons in the majors, 33-year-old Washington Nationals' closer Rafael Soriano's 3.65 ERA in 74.0 IP in March/April, his .323 OBP and .352 SLG against, his 3.48 FIP and 4.65 xFIP are all higher in the first month of the season than in any other month throughout the summer. So his 9.00 ERA and 8.28 FIP in his first four innings on the mound shouldn't cause much concern. Davey Johnson did tell reporters, including the Washington Post's James Wagner on Tuesday that the right-hander had suffered/experienced a "minor leg tweak" while covering home on the wild pitch he threw that allowed a run to score in his blown save in Saturday's game in Great American Ballpark. It wasn't enough of a concern to keep Johnson from using the closer in Tuesday's win.

Soriano has earned three saves in four opportunities, blowing the one chance in Cincinnati when he gave up a home run by Shin-Soo Choo and a triple by Joey Votto which led to the Reds scoring the tying run in a game the Nats would come back to win in extra innings.

Soriano gave up a one-out single by Alejandro De Aza, who was on base all night, on Tuesday night, and a two-run home run by Alex Rios, who was 3 for 5 in the loss, turning an 8-5 game into an 8-7 nail-biter, but he popped Paul Konerko up for out no.3 of the 9th and his third save of the season. Tyler Clippard allowed two hits and three runs when Konerko hit a three-run home run off him in the seventh to turn a 6-2 game into a 6-5 one. Craig Stammen gave up a run in the sixth after relieving Gio Gonzalez. Jayson Werth's RBI single in the seventh and Adam LaRoche's solo home run in the eighth made it 8-5 and gave the Nats a lead that would hold up in spite of Soriano's struggles.

"Soriano, he's not exactly where he needs to be as far as I'm concerned. He's mostly just throwing fastballs and locating fastballs." - Davey Johnson on Nats' closer Rafael Soriano

Davey Johnson said it's too soon to judge his relievers. "It's early in the year," the Nats' skipper told reporters after Tuesday night's win. "Guys are not throwing like I know they're capable of. That's the first time [Clippard] has given up any runs since he started throwing in the Spring. But Storen is getting better location, getting sharper. Soriano, he's not exactly where he needs to be as far as I'm concerned. He's mostly just throwing fastballs and locating fastballs. He hasn't reached for his other stuff."

"By and large," Johnson said, "that's all he's need to do to get by. But he's got great breaking stuff too. But he locates the fastball really good. He cuts it. But it will all come around. I'm not concerned. I know what I got out there in the pen."

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