WASHINGTON (CBSDC) — Remember way back when, in April, when Tyler Clippard struggled out of the gate?
One month into the 2014 season, he’d given up 8 runs on 9 hits and 9 walks in 14 setup appearances, for a soaring 1.421 WHIP.
The walks, at the time, seemed troubling, hinting at a lack of control not normally synonymous with Clippard’s history, unless of course you’re looking at his previous three Aprils, in which he’d walked a combined 20 batters.
Since April, Clippard’s found his command, only walking 9 batters in the months of May, June and July, giving up 5 runs in that span.
Baseball is a patient game.
For players, it’s a 162-game grind. But for fans, it’s approximately 27 week-long snapshots of ‘What have you done for me lately?’
So let’s examine the whole of these two parts, in an effort to establish why Clippard will be representing the Nationals on the 2014 National League All-Star team.
Thus far through 2014, in 40 innings and 43 appearances, Clippard has a stellar 2.03 ERA (1.225 WHIP) with 1 save and 19 holds (4th in MLB) on 31 hits, 18 walks and 53 strikeouts, totaling 13 runs.
But what do those numbers mean, in general, for a setup reliever?
They’ve allowed for closer Rafael Soriano, who’s been immaculate himself, the opportunity to flourish. Soriano’s saved 22 games in 24 save situations, with 36 strikeouts in 37 total appearances, equaling a 0.97 ERA.
By comparison, here are the pitching lines of the three pitchers with more holds than Clippard:
- Tony Watson (PIT) – 44.1 IP, 37 H, 9 R, 10 BB, 50 SO, 1.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
- Brad Ziegler (ARZ) – 48.1 IP, 34 H, 14 R, 17 BB, 43 SO, 2.42 ERA, 1.06 WHIP
- Will Smith (MIL) – 43.2 IP, 40 H, 17 R, 21 BB, 55 SO, 3.09 ERA, 1.40 WHIP
Simply put, whether by election or injury replacement (of his own teammate, Jordan Zimmermann), Tyler Clippard is an All-Star.