Welcome to “Get To Know a Nat.” There are currently 39 men on the 40 man roster, and we’re going to give you the straight scoop on all of them! Not sure where to start with player and season previews? Not ready to jump into heavy metrics? Just want to get to know the players, what they do, and what to expect from them in 2013? Then you’ve come to the right place!
Name: Tyler Lee Clippard
Nickname(s): Clip! The Specs
DOB: February 14, 1985 (Age 28)
Twitter?: @TylerClippard, but also follow @TClippardsSpecs
From: Lexington, Kentucky
Position: Relief Pitcher Bullpen Role: Set-Up Man (8th Inning)
With the Nats Since: Acquired via Trade from the New York Yankees in 2007
I’m running out of superlatives for Nationals pitchers, but I do think it is fair to say Tyler Clippard is a total bad-ass. A Goggled, Spectacled Saint of Speed. A failed starting pitcher, Tyler Clippard has made the full conversion to All-Star relief pitcher for the Washington Nationals. After his 2011 All-Star season, Clippard added to his resume by filling in as closer for the Nationals in 2012. In what might have been a disaster, Clip filled in admirably for injured closer Drew Storen (and injured potential closer Henry Rodriguez, and injured fired closer Brad Lidge).
Tyler Clippard has come along way from his eight failed starts (2 with the Nationals and 6 for the New York Yankees). He’s an overpowering fastball pitcher who isn’t afraid to throw the high heat. He’s not a guy that is looking for ground-outs, he’s a guy that’s looking to strike you out-and he’s pretty good at it. If the Washington Nationals are going to keep leads late in games they will need the same solid stuff they’ve been getting for the last three years from Tyler Clippard.
What’s Expected: Tyler Clippard throws the ball high in the zone. Rather than get hitters to swing (or not swing) at the bottom of the zone and hitting ground balls, Clippard wants you to swing and miss at something you can’t barely see. Fangraphs:
More often than not, Clip is throwing the fastball at just under 93MPH. Also Clip dumped his slider in favor for a cut fastball and a change up that is nearly 12MPH slower than the fastball. How’s all that pan out for Tyler? Baseball Reference:
Whooo! Fear the Goggles indeed! Look at that WHIP! and those K/9, HR/9 ratios (Refresher here if you need to look those up again). Clip strikes out 10 guys every 9 innings, and gives up fewer than 1 Home Run every 9 innings-and of course Clippard doesn’t pitch nine innings at a time. Nine innings usually takes about nine games-spreading those strikeouts and home runs over 1/16 of the season. His FIP is no joke either- He’s been in the low 3’s (3.36, 3.14, 3.21) over the last three years (considered great, especially since you add 3.1 to get started). Clippard gets strikeouts, doesn’t walk many people and doesn’t give up many home runs. You can’t ask much else of any pitcher-particularly your set-up man.
If It All Goes Wrong: Other than injury I can’t imagine how this would go wrong. Everything, I mean everything, indicates that Tyler Clippard will do as well this year as he has done recently. His is young, healthy, and barring injury he will do more of the same. Sometimes he leaves his fastball over the plate and a guy kills it, but that’s going to happen from time to time. If somehow, someway, Tyler Clippard has a statistical collapse it will be catastrophic for the Nationals and their bullpen. The addition of the Rafael Soriano as closer could, conceivably, mitigate that damage by putting Drew Storen in Clip’s role-but if the Nats lose a talent like the Be-Spectacled One, and it’s going to hurt the Nationals.
If It All Goes Right: This will go right. Tyler Clippard will shut people down like he has for the last three years and be the first in a three-headed dragon of game shut-down-age. The first Gatekeeper of the Curly W, Clippard makes the 7th/8th inning largely a formality for the Nationals. Clipp and Store(n) and Save becomes the formula for the back third of most baseball games, and the Nationals win nearly all of those on the way to the post-season.
Starting Rotation: Ross Detwiler, Dan Haren, Jordan Zimmermann
Outfielders: Bryce Harper, Denard Span, Jayson Werth
Catchers: Wilson Ramos, Kurt Suzuki
Infielders: Ryan Zimmerman, Adam LaRoche, Danny Espinosa
Bench: Tyler Moore, Roger Bernadina, Chad Tracy
Bullpen: Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen, Zach Duke
Callups: Part I, Part II