MacDougal is Nationals closer

The Nationals decided on Saturday afternoon to make right-hander Mike MacDougal their closer and slot right-hander Joel Hanrahan in the middle relief role.

It marks the second time this season that Hanrahan has lost the ninth-inning role. The first occurred on April 28, a day after giving up the game-winning grand slam to Phillies outfielder Raul Ibanez.

Hanrahan would get the role back in mid-May, but the inconsistency remained. In fact, he had given up six runs in his last three innings.

Manager Manny Acta was often frustrated with Hanrahan because Hanrahan relied too much on his slider instead of his 95 miles-per-hour fastball. Some in the organization believe that Hanrahan doesn’t have enough movement on his fastball to get people out on a consistent basis. It appears unlikely that he will get his job back.

As for MacDougal,  he will become a closer for the first time since the 2005 season when he was a member of the Royals.

The Nationals love MacDougal’s 98 miles-per-hour fastball and were pleased with the way he handled Mets pinch-hitter Gary Sheffield in the seventh inning on Friday. MacDougal threw nothing but his four-seam fastball and struck out Sheffield on three pitches.

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