Monday, June 11, 2012

Nats Have Their Fix At Closer

Tyler Clippard, above, has recorded 8 saves for the Nationals. (Photo: yimg.com) 
The days of Henry Rodriguez blowing a save in the ninth inning are long gone thanks to Tyler Clippard.

Ever since the all-star reliever turned closer he has been lights out for the Nationals. Clippard has recorded eight saves this season with just one blown save. His lone blown save came back in April in a 2-1 loss against the San Diego Padres.

Since May 22nd, the day Clippard recorded his first save of the season, he has been absolutely deadly for the Nationals. Clippard, himself, saved all three games of the Nationals series against the Red Sox. A series in which they swept the AL East giant.

In nine appearances since May 22nd, Clippard has recorded eight saves and has given up just one hit and has walked just three of the 21 batters that he has faced. His ERA has steadily decreased from 3.15 to just 2.30. He has a WHIP (walks/hits per innings pitched) average of .99 and has struck out nine batters.

Does this come as a surprise to anybody? Even with Drew Storen in the mix, Clippard is by far the best pitcher that the Nationals have in their bullpen. After all, he was an All-Star.

What's not to love about the long-haired, glasses wearing, 27 year old from Lexington, Kentucky? He's got great stuff that is virtually unhittable. He can come in in any situation and get the job done.

June 8th against the Red Sox the Nationals decided to go with Brad Lidge instead of Clippard in the ninth inning. Following a walk and one-out RBI double off the Green Monster, Clippard came in and got the remaining two batters to fly out to end the game and pick up his sixth save.

Tyler Clippard is the guy that the Nationals should have had in the ninth from the beginning of the season. The best part is, as the season goes on, Clippard's numbers just get better and better. Let's break this down by the month...shall we?

In the month of April, Clippard pitched a total of ten innings. He gave up 11 hits, six runs, and had a monthly pitch count of 216. He had 1-2 record with a blown save and five holds. He had an ERA of 5.40 when the month ended.

He improved dramatically in the month of May. He pitched 11.2 innings and gave up just three hits and two runs (only one run was earned). He struck out 15 batters and had a pitch count of just 167. He recorded five holds and three saves and finished with a monthly ERA of just .77.

He has gotten off to a hot start in the month of June. In 5.2 innings pitched, he has given up one hit and no runs. He has struck out three batters and has a pitch count of 88 (in his save against the Red Sox on June 10th, it took him 25 pitches to record the save). He has five saves so far this month and an ERA of 0.00.

The Nationals have finally found the closer they have been looking for since Chad Cordero left. Little did they know they already had him in the form of Tyler Clippard. Clippard has been getting stronger and stronger as the season progresses. If he keeps up his current performances, his name might be thrown around for the all-star game, as well.

The Nationals have a completed pitching staff. They can get 6-7 innings out of each of their starters on a daily basis. They have quality relievers that can come in during the 7th and 8th innings to hold the lead and then have sensational closers that can finish the deal in the 9th.

While a number of their pitchers are young, they certainly don't show their youthfulness on the mound. The Nationals pitching staff is fast becoming the best in the MLB. If they can keep this up, there will be a lot to celebrate come October.