Jim Riggleman remains committed to Clippard
Relief pitcher Tyler Clippard had been one of the surest bets out of the bullpen for the Washington Nationals this season. He started 7-0, proved to be a supremely effective set-up man for closer Matt Capps and had aspirations of becoming an all-star.
Then over Clippard's past seven-plus innings, circumstances changed dramatically, as he yielded nine walks and seven hits, including two home runs. In five of his past six appearances, Clippard (7-3, 2.30 ERA) has given up an earned run or allowed an inherited runner to score.
"When Clip was 7-0, I was happy that we got those wins," Manager Jim Riggleman said, "but I wasn't feeling like it's all about Tyler Clippard, and when he loses, I'm not putting it on him either. He's just going to continue what he does, and hopefully it'll turn around from him."
In the final game of Washington's recently completed nine-game road trip, Clippard surrendered the winning home run to Ryan Ludwick in a 3-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the fifth consecutive loss for the Nationals and evened their record at 20-20.
While Clippard's recent struggles may be anything from mere aberration to a disturbing trend, Riggleman remains committed to Clippard as his go-to guy in the eighth inning.
"I wouldn't use the word concerned," Riggleman said. "I watched him real close last night, and he was really throwing the ball well. He was firing, but fastball command is always an issue with Tyler because he's got a lot going on in that delivery. . . .
"He made a mistake to, and I really wouldn't say it was a mistake because I saw the tape of the home run, and it was actually kind of in on Ludwick, and that was about the fourth ball Ludwick had hit last night that he just smoked. He's really hot right now."
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