• Tyler Clippard – One That Got Away?

    Posted by on April 26th, 2010 · Comments (23)

    Via Adam Kilgore with a h/t to BBTF

    Tyler Clippard may not gain much notice outside of Washington, but he should based on one incredible fact: Clippard has made hitters swing and miss more than any other pitcher in the major leagues.

    Batters have dared swing at a pitch from Tyler Clippard 102 times this season, and 40 of those whiffed. That 39.2 percent rate is highest rate in the major leagues among all pitchers, relievers or starters. The league average is 22 percent. (John Lannan, the lowest on the Nationals, is 8.6.)

    Clippard has become a weapon for the Nationals, surprisingly one of the most overpowering pitchers in the majors. On Friday night, he oppressed the Dodgers in the seventh and eighth inning, allowing one hit and striking out four. He lowered his ERA to 0.66, upped his team-best strikeout total to 18 and lowered his WHIP to 0.80.

    How does Clippard blow so many hitters away? He does not light up the radar gun; the fastest pitch he threw Friday was a 93-mph fastball. His herky-jerky motion gives hitters a unique look at all four of his pitches. Clippard most fools hitters with a four-seam fastball and his changeup. He can throw his changeup in either count, which makes hitters chase high, riding heaters.

    “When he throws a fastball, it looks like a changeup,” said catcher Wil Nieves, who caught Clippard on Friday. “But instead of going down, it just stays straight. Hitters, they don’t see rotation. They cannot recognize his changeup. His delivery plus that nasty changeup that he has, a combination like that makes the hitters crazy. I’ve never seen so many pitchers swinging at the high pitch like they do to him. It’s unbelievable.”

    Clippard’s success in the bullpen has sparked a question: Should he go back to starting? Clippard believes he could start, but he had no opinion – “It doesn’t matter, really,” he said. “That’s kind of up to the organization.” The other day, Manager Jim Riggleman said his brother asked him why Clippard wasn’t starting. The reason: He’s just too valuable as a durable, dominating set-up man.

    I think, now, two years after, it’s pretty safe to say the Nationals got the best of this trade with the Yankees, no?

    Comments on Tyler Clippard – One That Got Away?

    1. MJ Recanati
      April 26th, 2010 | 3:09 pm

      I think, now, two years after, it’s pretty safe to say the Nationals got the best of this trade with the Yankees, no?
      ————–
      You realize that you’re talking about a bullpen righty, right? Those dudes grow on trees. You realize that from year to year relievers are fairly inconsistent, right? Don’t lose any sleep over what the Yanks got back for Clippard.

    2. Corey Italiano
      April 26th, 2010 | 3:15 pm

      Let’s not forget that Clippard is all delivery. His stuff isn’t that great.

    3. April 26th, 2010 | 3:22 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      You realize that you’re talking about a bullpen righty, right? Those dudes grow on trees. You realize that from year to year relievers are fairly inconsistent, right? Don’t lose any sleep over what the Yanks got back for Clippard.

      The thing is, would Clippard even have had a chance to flourish as a Yankee?

      Clippard’s been a beast out of the Nationals bullpen dating back to last season, while his “stuff” doesn’t appear to be much different than when he was a Yankee starter.

      He stands out in Washington because their relievers have been so very, very bad, but if he’d stayed in New York, even as impressive as he has been lately, you’d have to figure he’d still be well down the bullpen depth chart.

      Think about it – he’s not getting ninth or eighth inning work. Likewise, he’s not lefthanded, so he’s not getting Boone Logan or Damaso Marte’s work. Then we’re looking at the second/third tier relievers: guys like Dave Robertson, Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon and the like who given league adjustments he’s probably not significantly better than.

      It’s nice that he’s having success in that it reflects well on the scouting and development folks that got him to the big leagues. However I don’t think it’s really, truly a “loss” since even if he’d stayed a Yankee, its doubtful he’d have even had a chance to succeed.

    4. April 26th, 2010 | 3:47 pm

      Funny, I don’t remember any Yankees fans, back in the day, saying that it was OK that Willie McGee and Jay Buhner were traded away because they wouldn’t have been given a chance to succeed in New York…

      Really, if you can pitch, and get people out, they’ll make room for you and give you a chance, etc. See: #91 on the Yankees now.

      Think “Ace” was a highly touted prospect? Think he was someone the team was counting on to be a big part of the bullpen, etc? No.

      He just pitched well, got a call-up, and continued to pitch well in the majors. If you do that, they’ll find a way to keep you…or, at the least, trade you for something useful rather than a fat tub of goo who’s nothing more than a AAA pitcher.

    5. April 26th, 2010 | 3:48 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      Let’s not forget that Clippard is all delivery. His stuff isn’t that great.

      Hitting is timing. Pitching is messing with that timing – no matter how you get it done.

    6. April 26th, 2010 | 3:50 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      You realize that you’re talking about a bullpen righty, right? Those dudes grow on trees. .

      Crappy ones like Sergio Mitre grow on trees. “Shut down” innings guys, who do it consistently, do not grow on trees.

    7. MJ Recanati
      April 26th, 2010 | 3:54 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Crappy ones like Sergio Mitre grow on trees. “Shut down” innings guys, who do it consistently, do not grow on trees.

      Let’s talk about “shut-down” and Clippard next year to see if he can do it the way Scot Shields did it for several years for the Angels or the like.

      For a guy that treats prospects like a wheel of smelly French cheese, you’re getting too hyped up for Tyler freakin’ Clippard.

    8. MJ Recanati
      April 26th, 2010 | 3:55 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Funny, I don’t remember any Yankees fans, back in the day, saying that it was OK that Willie McGee and Jay Buhner were traded away because they wouldn’t have been given a chance to succeed in New York…

      Maybe because a RHP reliever (that isn’t even a closer) isn’t the same thing as an everyday player that makes several All-Star teams?

    9. Corey Italiano
      April 26th, 2010 | 3:56 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Hitting is timing. Pitching is messing with that timing – no matter how you get it done.

      Then why was he awful as a starter?

    10. Corey Italiano
      April 26th, 2010 | 3:58 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Let’s talk about “shut-down” and Clippard next year to see if he can do it the way Scot Shields did it for several years for the Angels or the like.

      And look at Shields now.

    11. MJ Recanati
      April 26th, 2010 | 4:00 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      And look at Shields now.

      No doubt. But, man, he was nasty for several years out of the pen. I can’t think of too many relievers that were consistently as good from year to year (that weren’t closers).

    12. Pat F
      April 26th, 2010 | 4:19 pm

      other thing is, you can’t really predict this stuff. you could swap 100 of these types of righties and it’s like calling a coin toss, you’ll get it right half the time and wrong half the time. bummed we seem to have lost this one but we’re just as likely to win the next one. either way, it’s very rare that you’ll be talking about major impact win or lose.

    13. Corey Italiano
      April 26th, 2010 | 4:45 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      No doubt. But, man, he was nasty for several years out of the pen. I can’t think of too many relievers that were consistently as good from year to year (that weren’t closers).

      Yup, I was adding to your point. Even if you’re a shut down reliever, you could blow up at any time. That’s why they don’t get paid a lot and aren’t considered as valuable as other pieces of a team.

    14. MJ Recanati
      April 26th, 2010 | 4:54 pm

      @ Corey Italiano:
      Agree completely, and I know you were adding on and agreeing with me. I was just thinking back to the years when you could draft Shields in the late rounds of a fantasy draft and get studly output.

    15. Raf
      April 26th, 2010 | 5:10 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Funny, I don’t remember any Yankees fans, back in the day, saying that it was OK that Willie McGee and Jay Buhner were traded away because they wouldn’t have been given a chance to succeed in New York…

      I don’t remember much hue and cry after either were traded. Both weren’t going to get shots in NY, and in the case of Buhner, he got a shot and didn’t do too much. And better yet, he blossomed some 2-3 years after he was traded.

    16. Raf
      April 26th, 2010 | 5:11 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      Then why was he awful as a starter?

      To be fair, it was over a handful of innings.

    17. Corey Italiano
      April 26th, 2010 | 5:58 pm

      @ Raf:
      Okay then, to be fair, why didn’t the Nationals make him a starter?

    18. Evan3457
      April 26th, 2010 | 6:37 pm

      Raf wrote:

      Steve Lombardi wrote:
      Funny, I don’t remember any Yankees fans, back in the day, saying that it was OK that Willie McGee and Jay Buhner were traded away because they wouldn’t have been given a chance to succeed in New York…
      I don’t remember much hue and cry after either were traded. Both weren’t going to get shots in NY, and in the case of Buhner, he got a shot and didn’t do too much. And better yet, he blossomed some 2-3 years after he was traded.

      There was no hue and cry over McGee, he was a non-descript AA outfielder when the Yanks traded him.

      There was some hue and cry over Buhner. He whiffed a ton, but many could see the long-term potential. And he was traded for a 32-33 year old DH. That trade annoyed me at the time. I do remember that.

    19. 77yankees
      April 26th, 2010 | 7:33 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      @ Raf:
      Okay then, to be fair, why didn’t the Nationals make him a starter?

      Maybe they think his flaws will be exposed if he’s facing guys 3x a game rather than once or twice in a 3 game series.

      Remember in his rookie season where he split between starter & reliever, Mo’s opposing BA was .306 as a starter, .121 as a reliever.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/split.cgi?n1=riverma01&year=1995&t=p

    20. long time listener
      April 26th, 2010 | 7:35 pm

      Can’t blame the Yankees for this one. They had a sure thing in Jose Veras, so why have Clippard stealing Veras’s innings?

    21. jrk
      April 26th, 2010 | 7:38 pm

      @ long time listener:
      lol.

    22. Raf
      April 26th, 2010 | 9:12 pm

      Corey Italiano wrote:

      @ Raf:
      Okay then, to be fair, why didn’t the Nationals make him a starter?

      It could be for any number of reasons. 2009 was his first year as a full time reliever as he was a full time starter in the Nats system in 2008. For all we know they may be planning on moving him back.

    23. Raf
      April 26th, 2010 | 9:49 pm

      Evan3457 wrote:

      There was some hue and cry over Buhner. He whiffed a ton, but many could see the long-term potential.

      And since he whiffed a ton, there was thought that he wouldn’t fulfill that potential. And with Henderson and Winfield manning the corners, and Clark signed for another year @ DH, Buhner wasn’t going to crack the lineup..

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