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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Eating A Lot of Peaches

When Tyler Clippard came into the game Tuesday night, my Son The Braves Fan - turning bitter as he sensed the inevitable - said, "Here comes your boy. Time for the return to earth."

Yeah, well, not yet. I couldn't think of a clever reply but when Melky Cabrera looked at strike three, I did mutter, "He can return to the bench."

It probably shouldn't surprise anyone that Clip was a fairly easy winner of the most recent poll about three-week MVPs. Only 87 voted (I'm hurt). He got 35 votes. Livo got 23, Pudge got 21, Capps got a surprisingly low 7 and Guzman got 1 (and to think I almost didn't include him).

I voted for Clip, though it wasn't as easy a call as you might expect given my professed fondness for the young man. I actually thought Capps would win the poll. Either one was a good call, though I can see cases being made for Pudge and Livo as well. Late implosions doomed this team so many times last April and Clip&Save have kept that from happening thus far this season. I don't hold last night against Capps. He didn't blow a save and dude had to give up another run sometime, didn't he?

When my son isn't being an obnoxious Braves fan (is that redundant?), he's a good conversationalist about baseball in general and his closet love for the Nats shows here and there. On the way home, we had a conversation about the new and improved Nats.

"Fool's Gold," he said.


His point was he thinks Capps is more likely to sustain something close to this pace than Clippard. He admitted he really didn't have a reason for thinking that way, just thoughts based on observations (like his dad, he doesn't own a slide rule). He conceded Clippard was fun to watch, as long as he wasn't watching him against the Braves.

"But who is he and what suggests he's really that good?"

I don't have the answers and I don't think anyone is really THAT good. Eventually he's going to get jacked a little and the ERA will balloon some.

Let's look at the opposite of that question. What suggests he isn't that good? A little sample size as a starter? He was pretty good in relief last season. He's maturing a little, learning more about pitching out of the bullpen, about the hitters he's faced. History may not suggest he has this in him. The present offers some pretty good evidence. This isn't a hot week. This is a very hot month.

No one can keep doing what he's doing, nice as that would be. But can he continue to be a very effective setup man? Can he continue to blow away hitters with that fastball that seems to rise and explode on a hitter?

Why the hell not? Until I see otherwise, I'm going to answer that with a resounding yes.

Edited to add this: Dave over at Nats News Network has a post on the subject that actually has some answers, so make sure you read it. After reading it, I change my answer from why the hell not to HELL YES!


Carl the Big Fool said...

Did you see the item that he leads the league in missed swings? (At least as of two weeks ago.)

I think that suggests he's doing something right, not just getting lucky.

MikeHarris said...

I would agree with that. I think he's comfortable in the role and has figured out, "Hey, this sheet works."
And I still love to stand up and yell YOU'RE OUT! I still keep it clean in public.

Dave Nichols said...

Mike, I tried to answer your question, using numbers you shouldn't be afraid of!

MikeHarris said...

You are the man, thanks. Good stuff and I'm going to throw up a link in the main post.
And, yes, I did understand that. Even the Babip part.

Anonymous said...

Mariano Rivera has one f*cking pitch and has been riding it successfully for 15 years now. So such things can be done, making much out of seemingly little. Here's what Boswell had to say about Clippard in his chat today. Makes sense.

He's special. Delivery that distracts hitters, "throwing the glove" at them. "I've been doing that since I was eight years old," he told me last week. That's just the way I throw." So, his mechanics shouldn't disintegrate because of a "trick" delivery. It's not a trick to him. He consistently gets hitters to go "up the ladder" and chase fastballs as well as anybody. He's the only pitcher in baseball right now who appears to throw so violently that, after he throws a changeup at 78, I still don't believe my eyes and think the radar gun should say 92. And all I have to do it watch him, not hit him. His slider is very good, too. Almost unfair. He's probably better in relief, and maybe best in his role right now, because hitters never get to see him a second time through the lineup. And with his max-effort style, he doesn't tire out as he might as a starter.

Cheryl Nichols said...

Anon, good point about having to see hitters just once a game.

another point, which I failed to mention in my post, is this all hinges on how he's used and how many innings he's throwing.

the Nats either need to gett eh starters going longer so Clippard's only needed for one inning at a time, or add another trusted reliever (not named Batista) so Riggs isn't afraid to use another arm in a high-leverage situation.

cause at this pace, Clippard will blow out before July 4.

Dave Nichols said...

that last comment was from me, not my lovely wife. i was logged in as her to retrieve a picture from Picasa. sorry for the confusion (not that she wouldn't have been able to contribute to the discussion anyway).

MikeHarris said...

Yeesh. As if all this stat talk isn't confusing enough.
Dave, you need to sub her picture in YOUR profile anyway.

Storen>Batista. The question is when?

Anonymous said...

Storen and Batista are two different animals. Storen's a set-up guy/possible closer. Batista's a long reliever/mop-up guy. A good bullpen needs both. The problem with the Nats bullpen is not that Batista is in it, but that Batista is doing the wrong job in it. When Storen comes up to be the setup guy, Batista doesn't need to go. He just needs to do the job he should have been limited to all along. Thus, it's not Batista's fault, it's Bruney's and to some extent Walker's and Burnett's fault for not stepping up into the setup role. If they don't do so before Storen gets called up, it will be one of them that gets canned, not Batista.

Shawn said...

Who is starting Saturday, by the way?

MikeHarris said...

Matt Chico, it seems