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!