Mid-Season Report Card: Tyler Clippard

 Grade: C+

The Yankees’ bullpen was touted as the best in baseball for most of the offseason after signing Aroldis Chapman. This allowed for a 7th, 8th, and 9th innings of Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances, and Chapman respectively. They lived up to the hype up until Chapman got hurt in late May. Then the whole bullpen struggled through June. I’ll be honest, I had a tough time choosing a grade for Clippard. He had a pretty good April and May but June has been an absolute disaster. And Joe Girardi has continued to run Clippard out there despite his struggles.
 
AP Photo | Frank Franklin III

First half performance:

Besides the month of June, Tyler Clippard has been pretty good. He’s pitched in 35 games with 30.2 innings pitched, 16 ER, 4.70 ERA, 6 HR, 16 BB, and 37 SO. In April, he only let up two earned runs (both solo homers) with 13 strikeouts in 9.2 innings pitched. His ERA in April was 1.86. The Yankees won 8 of 11 games that Clippard pitched in in the month of April.

In May, Clippard’s success continued. He again only let up two ER with 16 strikeouts and a 1.46 ERA in 12.1 innings pitched. Perhaps the most impressive stat in May is that Clippard didn’t let up a home run. He pitched in 13 games and the Yankees won 10 of them.

Then there’s the month of June. The wheels have fallen off, especially for the bullpen, while the Yankees continue to struggle. Clippard has only pitched 8.2 innings but he hasn’t performed well at all as of late. In those 8.2 innings, he has let up 12 earned runs, most of which have been in very crucial situations. He’s let up four home runs in June and has an ERA of 12.46 in the month. Clippard’s grade for the month of June would have to be an F and this month really pulled his overall grade down.

Expectations for Second Half:

Despite Clippard’s struggles, Girardi continues to call on him in crucial late-inning situations. It hasn’t worked out lately but I wouldn’t expect Girardi to change his strategy soon. Unfortunately, Girardi seems to believe in letting guys figure it out as they go along instead of finding someone else for those important situations. The rest of the pitching staff isn’t fairing much better in June, including the starting rotation. It’s possible that some of the guys just need a break and some rest. The All-Star break couldn’t come soon enough for the Yankees and their pitchers.

For Clippard, expectations have to be what he was in the early months of the season. That is the guy the Yankees thought they were getting coming into the season. There’s no doubt that this year’s backend of the bullpen isn’t as good as last year’s Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman. But as long as Clippard pitches like he did in the beginning of the season they can get pretty close and win some important ball games.

Conclusion:

Clippard also pitched in the 2017 World Baseball Classic for team USA. During which he pitched 4.1 innings, giving up one home run, and had six strikeouts. Clippard pitched better the other night (6/27) in Chicago, walking two and striking out two in an innings work. Girardi is probably going to continue to send Clippard to the mound around the 7th inning as long as he is healthy. If he can turn it around to what he was doing before June, then the Yankees bullpen will again be one of the best in baseball.

Article by: Paul Alvaro 

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