New York Yankees: Tyler Clippard Has Been The Definition Of Anti-Clutch
May 8, 2017; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Tyler Clippard (29) against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Clippard hasn’t come through in clutch situations and with a depleted bullpen, the New York Yankees have struggled when he’s called upon.

The New York Yankees don’t have much to complain about when it comes to their bullpen — which ranks fourth-best in the sport in the ERA category (3.05).

Yet, Tyler Clippard, who was expected to combine with Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman to form a fearsome trio at the back-end, has singlehandedly cost his squad a few games in his last few appearances.

Since June 4, the 32-year-old has surrendered two home runs and three earned runs in five appearances. That includes a go-ahead home run to Josh Donaldson, a game-tying RBI double to Cameron Maybin on Monday, a game-tying home run to Eric Young Jr. on Tuesday in an eventual Angels’ win and was tabbed with surrendering the go-ahead run in the eighth on Thursday in a game in which the A’s went on to win in 10 innings.

That’s one serendipitous win, one loss, two blown saves and a 6.23 ERA in five games. Ouch. At face value, however, his numbers aren’t all that bad.

Overall in 2017, Clippard owns a 2.30 ERA and 34 strikeouts in 27.1 innings of work which totals the highest strikeout-per-nine rate (11.2) of his 11-year career.

His 2.39 ERA since being acquired on July 31, 2016, from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Vicente Campos is also moderately impressive for a bullpen arm, but his performance in high leverage situations has Yankees’ fans scratching their heads.

In high leverage situations, according to Baseball Reference’s Win Expectancy (WE) and Run Expectancy (RE) Stats, opponents are slashing .278/.381/.583 off Clippard with three home runs and an OPS of .964. That’s night and day compared to the low-leverage slash line, in which batters own a .067/.106/.067 slash line with 16 strikeouts in 45 at-bats.

According to FanGrpahs’ clutch rating, which quantifies a player’s performance in high leverage situations, Clippard’s rating of -1.12 is the ninth-worst amongst the 171 qualified relievers in Major League Baseball.

As of June 16, the Yankees own a two-game lead over the Boston Red Sox in an American League East race that is expected to be close all year. In order to finish first, the bullpen, from top to bottom, simply has to be able to close out close contests.

Sure, Clippard will slide back to the seventh inning when Chapman returns to action, but as the leverage of games gets even higher, he’ll need to improve down the stretch. If the righty can’t find his mojo, manager Joe Girardi will have to swap his role out with Adam Warren or perhaps look to make an addition in July. Either way, Tyler Clippard has to get it right.