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Nationals' manager Matt Williams talks bullpen: Rafael Soriano's role? Drew Storen available?

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Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams talked about the Nats' bullpen again this afternoon as the Nationals prepare for the second game of three with the Atlanta Braves in D.C. What is Rafael Soriano's role? Will Williams name "a" closer?

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Washington Nationals' right-hander Drew Storen has thrown in the ninth inning in back-to-back games, earning saves in the series finale with the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday afternoon and the first game of three with the Atlanta Braves last night.

The 27-year-old reliever threw on Friday night against the Phillies too, though that was only a four-pitch outing in a game in which he came on to face Carlos Ruiz in the seventh after Xavier Cedeno gave up a home run and retired two batters.

In the two save opportunities he's thrown 36 pitches overall in the last two days. So is he available if Nats' skipper Matt Williams needs him in the ninth?

"After [Rafael Soriano's] bullpen yesterday we have to see how he's doing because it was a pretty heavy bullpen. Certainly Matt [Thornton] is available. We'll look at [Tyler Clippard] as well..." -Matt Williams on closer options if it's not Drew Storen now

"We'll know more when we get outside and they get a chance to throw and see how they feel," Williams said before today's game.

"But I would assume so unless he comes to us and says, 'Hey, I'm not feeling good.' So we'll know more after BP."

If for some reason Storen wasn't available tonight?

"It depends. We've got lots of options," Williams said. "So it depends on how it stacks up and like we've been talking about, matchups potentially, but we've got a number of guys who have done it.

"After [Rafael Soriano's] bullpen yesterday we have to see how he's doing because it was a pretty heavy bullpen. Certainly Matt [Thornton] is available. We'll look at [Tyler Clippard] as well, so like I said, we'll know more than we know now after we get out and run around a little bit."

After blowing his seventh save opportunity of the season and his fifth in the second-half, Soriano hasn't pitched since last Friday night, though he has been working with pitching coach Steve McCatty and did throw the bullpen session that Williams mentioned.

So is he looking for an opportunity to get Soriano back in a game at some point soon?

"If the right situation arises, yeah, I'd like to get him back out there and get a good feeling after that work in the bullpen." -Matt Williams on finding a spot to get Rafael Soriano back in

"Since it was a heavy bullpen we'll have to see," he told reporters today. "It's probably no more than him throwing and then getting in a game and he's certainly available the next day most of the time, but we have to see. So he'll get out there and throw, but if the right situation arises, yeah, I'd like to get him back out there and get a good feeling after that work in the bullpen."

Storen has been handed the ball in the last two games in the ninth.

Williams has talked about having several options available, but would he like to have "a" closer going forward over the last few weeks of the regular season and potentially beyond?

"I don't think we can say because we just don't know, we don't know what the status is going to be at that point. So to say one way or another is probably not smart for me to do at this point. The good thing we have is multiple guys that have been there. So if we have to make an adjustment then we can and I guess that's where we've got to leave it right now, because we just don't know.

"So we'll see how it plays out and if we get a chance to get to where we want to get to then we'll address it at that point, but as for right now we're just going to do everything we can to win today and when today's over do it again tomorrow."

If Soriano doesn't return to the closer's role, what role does Williams see him filling?

"Without saying one way or the other," Williams equivocated, "[Soriano] is willing to take the ball whenever we give it to him. So, in that regard, to answer the question, yeah, could he pitch in the eighth? Could he pitch in the ninth? Could he pitch in the seventh? Yes. But I think it all depends on where we're at and those matchups we talk about. So, right now, the last two games it's been Drew. But [Clippard] has also done it. Matt has done it and of course [Soriano] has done it for a long time. So there are multiple options there. So without saying, 'Well he's going to pitch here or there,' yeah, those are options, but at this point we don't know, we don't know how the game is going to unfold, and what we'll be able to use. So we'll just play it by ear, play the game and see how it unfolds."