Tyler Clippard wound up being a part of three different bullpens over the course of the season. He began the year in pinstripes as the primary seventh-inning reliever for the Yankees, but lost that role during the summer after serving up seven homers in 36.1 innings. He was then dealt to the White Sox as part of the return for Todd Frazier, and Clippard thrived in his new home. Although he only made 11 appearances on the south side of Chicago, the right-hander shined to the tune of a 1.80 ERA. This led the White Sox to flip him to Houston, where his struggles returned in the form of a 6.43 ERA across 14 frames. Clippard has excellent strikeout statistics, but his awful control and propensity for giving up home runs doomed him in 2017. He remains unsigned as of press time.
Clippard said he made changes to his mechanics last season to help avoid tipping pitches, Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet.ca reports. Clippard wouldn't address what changes he made to his delivery, but he's hoping they'll help him bounce back from his down year in 2017. The Astros apparently pointed out mechanical tendencies that Clippard had developed that could have been tipping his pitches. He initially struggled with his new delivery, posting a 10.00 ERA across his first 11 appearances (nine innings) with the Astros, but he said things started to click around mid-September. Clippard also said he'd like to throw his fastball more often in 2018 after throwing it less than 40 percent of the time for the first time in his career.
Clippard has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays which includes an invitation to spring training. After eight straight seasons where he posted an ERA of 3.72 or lower, the 33-year-old Clippard saw his ERA balloon to 4.77 last season. His strikeout rate remained solid at 27.3 percent, but his 11.7 percent walk rate was his highest since 2009. If the walk rate comes back down, the Blue Jays will have acquired a capable middle reliever for cheap. In a bullpen which is short on quality arms behind closer Robert Osuna, Clippard could even be in line for the occasional save.
Clippard didn't allow a baserunner during a scoreless ninth inning to collect his fourth save of the season during Saturday's win over Oakland. Ken Giles recorded a five-out save Friday, so Clippard was called to the mound to close out the Athletics on Saturday. It's worth noting that Giles has converted nine of his past 10 save opportunities and has a firm grasp on the Houston closer job. Still, Clippard might be next in line for save opportunities, which makes him a player to keep tabs on in all settings.
Clippard allowed a hit and a walk while striking out one during a scoreless inning in Monday's 2-0 loss to Arizona. Clippard entered the game in the eighth inning with Houston down, 2-0, and promptly served up a leadoff double and a walk before getting out the jam. The freshly minted Astro made his debut in a Houston uniform one day after he was acquired from the White Sox. The right-handed Clippard is expected to fill a role as a late-inning setup reliever.
Clippard was activated ahead of Monday's game against the Diamondbacks, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. Reymin Guduan was sent back to Triple-A to clear room for Clippard, who is expected to serve a setup role for the Astros. The 32-year-old owns a 4.29 ERA and 54:24 K:BB through 46.1 innings between the Yankees and White Sox this season.