Blue Jays reliever, Tyler Clippard, has disappointed, but the numbers don’t agree
The Toronto Blue Jays brought in Tyler Clippard this past March by signing him to a minor league deal. This is important to remember as you make your way through what follows. It’s a minor league deal.
The 33 year old righty is a veteran presence who has some experience closing out ball games. So, if healthy and effective, he could have been a great addition to the Blue Jays bullpen. At the time, the group also included Roberto Osuna, Ryan Tepera, Danny Barnes among others who looked to form a rather promising group. Not elite, but promising.
The risk came in bringing in a guy who had been traded two times last season and had mixed results for three teams. If you look at his 2017, you see an OK stint with the Yankees, a better 10 game spread with the White Sox and then a horrendous time in Houston over 14 games. So the reality is that Toronto couldn’t really be sure what they were going to get from a guy who could no longer throw serious heat, hence the minor league deal.
Anecdotally, fans of the Toronto Blue Jays will tell you that he’s been a massive disappointment. And, that comes from rather unfortunate outings like this one:
Clippard took a game that was somewhat comfortable and allowed it to become a nail biter in grand fashion. While he would only be credited with 2 runs, it doesn’t change the results on the score board…or on our hearts. That kind of memory sticks with you. It might be all anyone can remember for a while. Events like this are what are fresh in everyone’s mind when they think about next year and they want to say ‘Thanks, but no thanks’ to the idea of bringing back someone like Clippard.
The funny thing is that he hasn’t actually been as bad as you might think. Consider what Arden Zwelling had to say about Clippard when he first signed in Toronto: “He’s been an extreme fly ball pitcher over his career, and holds the third-highest fly ball rate (53.6 per cent) of any qualified MLB reliever over the last five seasons.” The label of “fly ball pitcher” is not one many guys want to be saddled with, particularly when AL East teams are considering signing them. The 5 ballparks in this division are rather home run friendly. Remember what we thought when Marco Estrada was coming in? There’s a reason. Fly balls tend to turn into home runs.
To wit: Clippard has given up 13 dingers in his 64 innings of work this season. It is a career high, but it is not out of whack with what he’s done before. Breaking it down further is where it starts to look worse. His FB% (59.8%) is right up there with his career worst. It certainly causes a double take when you see that it is not the worst mark of his big league tenure. I mean, 60% is HIGH. That’s a lot of balls in the air, so his HR/FB% is the next logical place to look and it is 13.3%, which is the highest mark of his career. Spending a whole season in the AL East could play some part in that number, of course.
But, here’s the thing: his other numbers aren’t so bad. Sure, we remember the homers more, but there are other aspects of his game that look rather positive. His K% (29.2%) is the highest it’s been in four seasons. That’s gotta be a little impressive since he’s lost 1 mph on his fastball in that time. You also have to go back the same amount of time to find a BB% (8.5%) as low as he has in 2018.
Looking for more surprising numbers?
- Clippard has left 82.5% on base (LOB). He hasn’t seen a mark that effective since 2013.
- 7 saves, 12 holds
- 79 strike outs in 64 innings
- Lowest WHIP (1.21) in 3 seasons
In a world where perception is reality, one would assume that Tyler Clippard has been somewhat of a disaster in a Blue Jays uniform. Or, maybe that’s just the reaction one gets from Twitter right after he gives up one of his very poorly timed home runs. Regardless, many would not be too upset to see him leave town in a few weeks and let the club try someone else in the bullpen.
But, if we’re interested in being fair and logical – which I assume you are, since you read Jays From the Couch – you might consider that Clippard’s “bad” has really come down to timing. If you look at his season as a whole, you see a pitcher who has had some successes, despite giving up home runs. The Blue Jays knew he would. It’s no secret. But, for a minor league deal, Clippard’s 0.3 fWAR have been a good bargain.
And, that’s the odd case of Tyler Clippard.
*Featured Image Courtesy Of DaveMe Images. Prints Available For Purchase
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Shaun Doyle is a long time Blue Jays fan and writer! He decided to put those things together and create Jays From the Couch. Shaun is the host of Jays From the Couch Radio, which is highly ranked in iTunes, and he has appeared on TV and radio spots.