Originally written on The Nats Blog  |  Last updated 11/9/14

Up three runs last night, the Washington Nationals rolled the dice and allowed Henry Rodriguez to attempt to close the game for them. The gamble worked. Rodriguez retired three of the four batters he faced with the one batter reaching base on an Ian Desmond error. He earned save No. 9 on the season, and Nats fans were left having to pick up the batteries from the remote they threw across the room when they saw him on the mound four batters earlier.

It's safe to say, Nats fans and the Nationals organization themselves are on very opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to Rodriguez. Mike Rizzo, Steve McCatty, and his teammates seem to be enamored by his ability, while fans and bloggers alike seem to be infuriated by his inconsistent performance. For every 100 MPH fastball, there's a 48 foot slider. For every 1-2-3 inning, there are frames with three consecutive walks.

In the last 24 hours, both Rizzo and injured closer Drew Storen have come to the defense of Rodriguez. That in itself is not surprising at all. Any good teammate or front office figure knows that confidence in an immensely important part of any sport. It doesn't matter what anybody says about professional athletes being grown men, or being above the ability to be rattled. Confidence is key. But Storen and Rizzo's statements went beyond simply padding a teammate's confidence. Both of them seemed to indicate that not only does Rodriguez have the stuff to get it done, but that he has the stuff to be one of the best closers in the game.

Mike Rizzo said:

"He's going to be a shutdown closer in the near future. He's pretty darn good right now. When he's on, he's unhittable, and when he's off he struggles, and that's like a lot of them."

Drew Storen said:

“I think he’ s gonna be all right. I mean, his stuff is through the roof, way better than anybody else’s in the league. But it’s just a matter of applying it in the right way.”

So how are Nationals fans supposed to swallow that while they watch walk-off grand slams and multiple wild pitches per inning? Many had already begun discussing who the next closer would be before Rodriguez was put in the game last night. Some fans are calling for Tyler Clippard to fill in until Drew Storen returns. Others think Craig Stammen has earned the opportunity to be a big time closer in this league.

Washingtonians want to love Henry, they want him to be freakin bueno, but they also want to win. Winning is the ultimate goal and Rodriguez has been the most apparent road block to that goal multiple times this year.

But even with that said, who can honestly disagree with Rizzo and Storen? Rodriguez's stuff is absolutely electric. He throws as hard as anyone in the game, and his "off speed" pitches bite as well as the top flight relievers in baseball. I dont think there are any Nationals fans who can seriously watch this guy pitch when he's on and can not imagine what he COULD be.

I think ultimately the reason this question cuts to the core of so many in Washington is that it is rather symbollic of this team as a whole. Stephen Strasburg has an innings limit and we need to decide whether to shut him down for the good of the future or to go for it all this year. Danny Espinosa has been terrible at the palte, but do we sacrifice his future for a player with less upside that is performing better now in Steve Lombardozzi? These are the same sort of questions that are raised with the Rodriguez debacle.

In fact, just last evening Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and I were having a conversation about Rodriguez himself. Nichols was arguing that Rodriguez didn't even need to try to throw his slider because his fastball and changeup were enough. The slider just gets him into trouble. I argued that yes, he has trouble with it now, but it is such a nasty pitch that it could be an unbelievable asset if he masters it. The problem was, neither of us were wrong. We just had different focuses. 

We all want to win now, because we haven't won in so long. At what point though do you have to draw the line? At what point does promise absolutely have to turn into production? At what point are blown saves worth more than September wins. I don't have all the answers, in fact I'm sure no one does. But at some point, someone's going to have to make a decision. Either way, strap in because every time Henry takes the mound, it's bound to be a wild ride.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

David West on Brian Shaw being fired: ‘That’s bulls–t'

Hamels trade talk motivating Red Sox pitching staff

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Yankees fire employee over Curt Schilling's daughter tweets

Ravens settle grievance, pay Ray Rice $1.6 million

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

A-Rod goes 0-2 against Yankees pitching machine 'Iron Mike'

Redick: Flip Saunders told me to ‘shut the f— up’ three times

Ohio native Brian Hartline to visit Browns today

Report: Jets owner urging team to pursue Darrelle Revis

Kobe Bryant: Wife suffered miscarriage during rape trial

Hernandez allegedly shot friend after fight over strip club bill

Teams that should be on NCAA Tourney upset alert

SpongeBob SquarePants: The newest NASCAR race sponsor

Winners and losers of the NHL trade deadline

Andrew Luck shaved beard, left mustache

Museum to give away DeLorean if Cubs win World Series

Jameis Winston looking to trademark 'Famous Jameis'

Maple Leafs burned on Twitter by frustrated fan

Keith Olbermann putting an end to his Twitter 'batting practice'

Prospect receives 75 cent check from Yankees

Flores: If Nick Young takes a shot at me, he's going to miss

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Who received franchise tags at the deadline and who did not

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Spiller: EJ Manuel learned not to be 'buddy buddy' with everyone

Ten most underrated NFL free agents

Five potential landing spots for Andre Johnson

Texas-Baylor fight leads to 7 ejections

Mark Cuban will be Prez in 'Sharknado 3'

Report: Redskins interested in Suh

Report: Revis likely to hit free agency

Steve Spurrier joins Twitter

MJ makes Forbes billionaire list

Nick Young fires back at Robert Flores

Sad LeBron literally looks in mirror after loss to Rockets

MLS 2015 season preview

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.