Inside Pitch Live with Pitcher Tyler Clippard
Relief pitcher Tyler Clippard spent some time prior to today’s game in the PNC Diamond Club, fielding questions from fans and moderator Dave Jageler, Nationals play-by-play broadcaster, for another installment of Inside Pitch Live:
The bullpen has been terrific this year. This is kind of a new role for you, being a reliever. How is it different from being a starter, which is what you were when you started your career?
TC: I like it. Obviously the transition has been good. Going out there, getting three outs is a lot less stressful than trying to get 20. So it’s been nice. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed it and had a little success doing it.
But it is pretty stressful. If you come into a 2-1 game, Strasburg threw seven great innings, you don’t want to give that up.
Yeah, absolutely. But at the same time, it’s fun to get put in those situations–keeping your team in the game. That’s what it’s all about. I enjoy it. It’s a lot of fun being in this role and contributing as much as I’ve been able to. I’m just enjoying it, kind of going day by day and seeing what happens.
You’re not wearing a “Clipp and Save” t-shirt. That was a great giveaway. You and Matt have provided a great combo. It’s been fun to watch you two.
That’s a fun little saying, I guess. I’m just glad to be in that same category as Matt, trying to do my thing.
You’re one of the better relief pitchers on the team, not to grind on anyone else. They’re using you a lot. Are you concerned they might be using you too much?
I appreciate that. Thank you. No, I don’t think so. It’s one of those things in this game, especially at the Big League level, you’ve got to be ready to throw every day. That’s kind of what our job is, that’s what it entails. And I’m going to be real open with how I feel and be real verbal with my health and things like that to the organization and to Riggs and people like that. So far, so good. I’ve felt good all year and I’m the kind of guy who wants the ball, so put me out every night and I’ll be fine.
How many pitches would you throw in a game?
Well hopefully nine (audience laughing)–with three strikeouts. As few as possible. You go in there as a reliever and try to get quick outs. That’s our job as pitchers, so hopefully not too many. If you get up there in the 20-30 range, it’s probably not going good, o as few as possible.
If you’re a starting pitcher, you may throw 180-200 innings in a season. As a relief pitcher, you may throw maybe 60-80 inning. What makes the wear and tear in your arm more difficult pitching every day or every other day as opposed to every fifth inning? How is that different?
Your body responds differently. The things that you feel are definitely different. I think the type of innings that you’re throwing–if you’re throwing stressful innings, where instead of having ten-pitch innings when you’ll probably feel better the next day, whereas you could get the same result but throw 25 pitches. So that’s the thing. You want to be as efficient as possible, throw strikes, and try to get in and out as quickly as possible so you can be ready the next day. That’s what you try to do as a reliever–stay healthy, accumulate innings, like I’ve been able to do, but at the same time during those innings, you want to keep your pitch count down. I think that’s a big thing.
I just have a comment. I actually saw you in the Minor Leagues when you were with the Yankees organization. I saw the no-hitter you pitched, ironically, against the Nationals affiliate in Harrisburg in 2006. That was one of the more memorable moments in terms of all the different games I’ve been to.
Yeah, that was one of my most memorable moments too, so I’m glad you were able to see that. Not too many people were there really. I think there were probably about 600 people in the stands. But that was a fun night for me.
Where did you grow up? Can you talk about your background and how you ended up with the Nationals?
I grew up in Tampa, Florida, and was drafted by the Yankees in 2003, went through their farm system kind of one step at a time. I was in the Minor Leagues about four years and was able to get to the Big Leagues in 2007 with them as a starter. I finished that year and was traded over to Washington. Then, in the ’08 season, I had a couple of starts for the Nationals here. Then in ’09 I was transferred to the bullpen. It’s been a great time here in this organization. I’ve loved every minute of it and I hope I can stay here for a long time.
You had some great success against the Mets. Your first Big League start was on a Sunday night, ESPN game against the Mets. And then of course this year, you had a great outing against them–three innings with seven strikeouts in a game at Citi Field.
I get a lot of flak from the Mets fans. I don’t think they like me too much. But they’ve gotten me too. I haven’t dominated them every time. But I’ve had some success.
Strasburg, seven innings pitched, Clippard gets the eighth, and Matt Capps saves it. Nationals get the win. How about that?
Let’s do it.