Tyler Clippard led the Nationals with 11 wins last season, but he knows several of them happened not because he did his job, but because he didn’t. He also had eight losses, and this year, he is bent on a accumulating a dearth of decisions.
“In my role, I don’t want wins,” Clippard said. “I want holds. That’s what we do in the bullpen. Starters win games. We’re supposed to hold the lead for those guys.”
Last season, even as he became one of the most trusted Nationals relievers, Clippard struggled stranding inherited runners. Clippard inherited 46 base runners, and 18 of them scored. That 39.1-percent rate ranked 76th among the 85 qualifying major league relievers who inherited at least 30 runners.
In his first two appearances, he is off to a good start improving that aspect of his game. In both of the Nationals’ first two games, Clippard entered with two runners on base and one out. Saturday, he entered in an especially crucial situation, with two runners in scoring position and the Nationals up, 4-2. He struck the first batters, Brooks Conrad, and induced a fly out to keep the lead at two.
“I think it’s more of a mindset, a mentality, and something that being a starter my whole career and getting acclimated to the bullpen,” Clippard said. “It’s part of the game. It’s going to happen. It’s not going to be like this the whole year. There will be times when the runs come across. But I’m trying to limit that. We’ll see how it goes. So far, so good.”