Pattern Remains, Clippard Dominates

The Nats won last night, keeping themselves above .500. You’ll hear it alot, that this is their best start since 2005. But they were above .500 until the last game of the year in 2005, so don’t expect them to top that start. Still, best team in 5 years? I could definitely buy that. They’re now 8-0 in games where the starter put in at least 5 innings of work. 0-7 otherwise. John Lannan didn’t have a great game, but he wasn’t awful, and since the Nats hit, it was enough.

The reason the Nats are able to win when their starter puts in a full days’ work is that their bullpen has been very effective when used for short periods. Especially effective has been Tyler Clippard, hands down the best reliever on the team for the first few weeks. So good, in fact, that Riggleman has been happy to leave him in for multiple innings stretches in 5 of his 7 appearances. So good that he’s struck out 14 in 11 2/3 innings, while only walking 5. So good that he leads the team in wins at 3-0. So good, with multiple good pitches, that he’s probably a better starter right now than half of the rotation. Yes, I said half, which I know means 2 1/2 pitchers, but whatever.

So it begs the question, should Clippard be moved to the starting rotation? We know he can start, he did it a ton in the minors and was brought up as one. He started a couple of games in 2008 and did alright, and he’s a much better pitcher now. There is plenty of evidence that he’s one of the best pitchers on the team this season so far, and could keep this team winning if he puts in 6-7 innings a game every 5 days instead of 1-2 innings every two days.

Then again, there are major issues. Maybe he won’t be as effective. Maybe he can’t handle starting and coming out of the bullpen is what makes him so effective. Maybe once he’s out of the bullpen, it will be revealed to be horrendous without him and the Nats won’t win any games regardless of how well the starters do. So I ask, what do you think?

*Originally I wrote as the last option that he’ll “give up 4 homers in a row again soon.” I realize that was former Yankee Chase Wright, not Tyler Clippard

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2 Responses to Pattern Remains, Clippard Dominates

  1. Clippard is a two-pitch pitcher (fastball, change) and has found his niche in middle relief.

  2. bdrube says:

    I would leave Clippard where he is for the time being. Why mess with success? We have plenty of good starting pitchers who will be coming available later this year and someone has to get us from them to Capps when the Nats are ahead.

    Plus, he will be a good insurance policy to step in as a closer next year should Storen struggle as he adjusts to the Majors, assuming Capps is traded.

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