The bottom of the 8th inning at Shea Stadium tonight was very telling in regards to the Washington Nationals' closer situation. With the team clinging to a 2-1 lead and a runner in scoring position with 2 outs, manager Manny Acta turned to Jon Rauch rather than Chad Cordero to close out the ballgame.
Although Rauch promptly blew the lead by giving up a single to Carlos Delgado, it is becoming clear that the team is losing faith in Cordero. The Chief has pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings thus far, however. his lack of velocity has been troubling to the Nationals' coaching staff. Concerns about the health of Cordero's shoulder are mounting and I bet that GM Jim Bowden secretly wishes he had dealt the 26 year old closer when he had the chance at the 2007 trade deadline.
Cordero, who recently returned from a DL stint, insists he is fine. But given the fact that the Mets-Nationals game is now in the 13th inning and we have yet to see the flat-brimmed righty is a strong indication that something is wrong.
It appears that it will be hard for Manny Acta to trust Cordero to finish ballgames as long as his velocity is down. Look for Jon Rauch to serve as the Nats' closer while Cordero works out his issues. It is safe to say that The Chief cannot be considered an elite closer any longer and owners have to be concerned about what exactly Cordero will have to offer during the course of the 2008 fantasy season.