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Williams Not Bailing on Tyler Clippard ‘The Unprecedented King of the 8th Inning’

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Catcher Jose Lobaton #59 talks with pitcher Tyler Clippard #36 of the Washington Nationals on the mound after Clippard gave up a three RBI double to the Los Angeles Angels in the eighth inning of the Nationals 4-2 loss at Nationals Park on April 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Catcher Jose Lobaton #59 talks with pitcher Tyler Clippard #36 of the Washington Nationals on the mound after Clippard gave up a three RBI double to the Los Angeles Angels in the eighth inning of the Nationals 4-2 loss at Nationals Park on April 21, 2014 in Washington, DC. (Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Tyler Clippard has had a rough April, but Matt Williams insists he’s not giving up on him as the setup man for the Washington Nationals.

He’s given up runs in 5 of 11 appearances this season — including a three-RBI double to the Angels in his most recent outing — and has a 3.72 ERA and a 1.448 WHIP, which is soaring for a reliever accustomed to only throwing an inning or two per outing.

“There are adjustments that we can make during the course of the game, for sure, due to – if, in fact, he’s not feeling it, he’s struggling – but we have to understand, this guy, Tyler Clippard, is the unprecedented king of the eighth inning, in all of baseball over the last five years,” Williams told the Junkies Wednesday morning.

“Nobody’s even close,” he said. “Nobody’s better. Right now, he’s struggling to find his changeup.”

“One, as a manager, you’ve got to show confidence in him. Two, you also want to win the game, so there may be situations where we can matchup with a lefty there, but I’m trying, at this point, to make sure Tyler’s good, that over the long run, we can get him in the eighth inning and it’s locked down to give the ball to [Raphael Soriano] in the ninth.

“And generally it will be. These early struggles happen to everybody, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to give him the ball. He’s got to get out of it, and he will – he’s a veteran guy, he understands that – and he’ll get out of it. And he’ll back to his old self, and closing out eighth innings to get the ball to our closer in the ninth.”

Earlier in the interview, Williams went into further depth about why he benched Bryce Harper last week, saying of the slugger not running to first on a comebacker to the pitcher “If you never touch the bag, you can never be safe.”

He also explained why Harper slid down to sixth in the lineup Tuesday, mentioning a conversation he had with him, in which Harper informed his manager he “really didn’t see the ball very well” against Tyler Skaggs in the past.

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