Once a promising prospect in the Yankees’ organization, Tyler Clippard has returned to the Bronx with a newfound maturity to get the job done.
Fans remember Tyler Clippard from all the hype surrounding him in his 2007 stint in New York. Then he seemed to fall off the face of the Earth. And just when the New York Yankees need it most, he has returned to the Bronx and filled in the gap for a struggling bullpen down the playoff stretch.
Perfect timing for a player who was destined to be a top starter at the beginning of his career.
Clippard’s career in the Yankees farm system showed promise for what he could do up in the Bronx. Impressing with his blazing four-seam fastball and talent for striking out the majority of hitters he faced, he seemed like the perfect addition to the starting rotation.
Starting at 18 years old, Clippard finally broke into the Major Leagues at 22 for what was deemed a disappointing season. Despite a 3-1 record, his ERA steadily rose to 6.33 and, even worse, he only recorded 18 strikeouts while giving up 17 walks in 27.1 innings pitched.
After his short stint for the Yankees, Clippard was traded away to the Washington Nationals, and that was the last the Yankees saw and heard from Clippard. That is, until he reemerged as a name during the trade deadline as the Yankees were desperate to jump back into the hunt for October.
As someone who seemed like such a promising option for New York back in the early 2000s, Clippard was just another player that the Yankees forced into a starting role when his pitching style better suited the bullpen. Think Joba Chamberlain and even, more recently, Luis Severino. Clippard was nothing spectacular to the Nationals, the Oakland A’s or the New York Mets, but he got the job done.
The Yankees had one of the strongest trios in the back end of the bullpen with Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman. That was, until the Yankees shipped off two of the three dominant relievers in pursuit of building their now nasty farm. While Clippard is no Chapman or Miller, he was brought in with a shot for a second chance, a clean slate.
And simply put: he’s delivered.
Since arriving at the trade deadline, Clippard has become an anchor in the bullpen and has far exceeded expectations. In 13 games, Clippard has recorded 11 strikeouts in 12.1 innings pitched. Currently sporting a 0.73 ERA, Clippard has played several roles in the bullpen and excelled each time he’s received that call from the dugout.
A former two-time All-Star with the Nationals, Clippard has brought his goggles and his strikeouts back to the Bronx. While his past performances in New York were less than ideal, the second coming of Clippard has proven his growth and maturity in the game of baseball since 2007.
We’re not going to insist that Clippard is the perfect replacement for Miller and Betances. We’re not even going to go as far as to say Clippard is the best reliever on the squad. But it can be said that Clippard is exactly what the Yankees need at exactly the right time. And that could not be more accurate.
In the 13 games he has pitched in since his return to the Yankees, the team is 12-1. In each of his outings, he’s thrown an average of 16.2 pitches. He is getting outs, securing holds and doing it all efficiently.
It seems to be the story for the Yankees this season, especially since the beginning of August. Players are being brought to the squad and exceeding expectations to help create a perfect equation for New York to make a run to October.
Clippard was once a household name that caused disappointment in New York. Now? He is getting a second chance and the Yankees are reaping the benefits of his return to the Bronx.