Don’t be fooled by Tyler Clippard’s glasses, baby face or warm-up song–the 1995 hit Peaches by the Presidents of the United States of America. It started as a joke and he was forced to keep it because he was pitching well.
There is strike one–a 92 mph fastball.
You can’t forget Clippard and hitters have a harder time figuring him out. Last season, lefties batted an anemic .122 (14-for-115) off of him. His stony stare makes you shake and his glasses let you know he means business.
Count it. Strike two–an 82 mph change-up.
Now he has you guessing. You are still trying to figure out who he is and you are already down 0-2. Good luck.
Don’t be fooled. Tyler Clippard is the real deal and that’s why you will remember him. Call it deception. Call it whatever you want. It doesn’t matter. Clippard is coming right after you regardless.
Deception is his look. His wrestling-weigh-in stare on the mound is everything he isn’t. His 25-year-old baby face off the mound without his glasses is as intimidating as a puppy. He grew up in Florida as a low stress, low key, laid back person who tries to get along with everyone. He started wearing the glasses last season because he couldn’t see the signs from the catcher.
“I don’t feel like the glasses are too intimidating,” Clippard said. “I feel like they are kind of dorky. But if they’re intimidating, that’s fine too.”
Deception is his pitch–the 92 mph fastball seems as fast as a rocket after he throws a change-up.
“His change-up is very good,” Pitching Coach Steve McCatty said. “It’s hard to stay on it. It looks like a fastball and then what he does so well is after he slows you down enough, he throws 91-92 mph. But when you have that kind of change-up, it makes the 91 mph fastball look like 98 mph.”
Deception is his delivery. It looks violent and fierce but he throws each pitch with purpose–not quite as peaceful as poetry–but it is close.
“His delivery is a little awkward and he hides the ball so well,” reliever Sean Burnett said. “You see his arms and legs just come at you with his glove… and then the ball jumps upon you, so you can’t pick it up and then all of a sudden it’s coming at you pretty clean.”
Deception is his style, but dominating has been his game. He has been a key contributor to the revamped bullpen–only Burnett and Clippard remain from 2009. He can be used in every situation: long relief, short relief, against lefties, in the eighth or to close the game. He struck out seven in 3.0 innings of work on April 10 against the Mets to pick up the victory. He is 3-0 with a 0.50 ERA (18.0 IP/ 1 ER) in 12 games.
To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest edition of Inside Pitch at Nationals Park during this homestand.
Stephen Strasburg is one step closer to pitching in Washington. In an expected move today, the Nationals promoted right-handed pitcher Stephen Strasburg to Triple-A Syracuse. He will join Drew Storen who was promoted on Thursday.
Strasburg is slated to make his Triple-A debut on Friday, when the Chiefs host the Gwinnett Braves at Alliance Bank Stadium.
The first-overall selection in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft went 3-1 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts with Double-A Harrisburg. Strasburg recorded 27 strikeouts and just six walks in 22.0 innings of work. He posted a 4.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and averaged 11.05 strikeouts per 9.0 innings–tops in Eastern League.
Strasburg, 21, ranked among the Eastern League’s top pitchers in several categories: 27 strikeouts (first), 0.86 WHIP (second), 8.18 baserunners per 9.0 innings (second), .165 batting average against (third) and 1.64 ERA (fourth).