The Nats won last night, keeping themselves above .500. You’ll hear it alot, that this is their best start since 2005. But they were above .500 until the last game of the year in 2005, so don’t expect them to top that start. Still, best team in 5 years? I could definitely buy that. They’re now 8-0 in games where the starter put in at least 5 innings of work. 0-7 otherwise. John Lannan didn’t have a great game, but he wasn’t awful, and since the Nats hit, it was enough.
The reason the Nats are able to win when their starter puts in a full days’ work is that their bullpen has been very effective when used for short periods. Especially effective has been Tyler Clippard, hands down the best reliever on the team for the first few weeks. So good, in fact, that Riggleman has been happy to leave him in for multiple innings stretches in 5 of his 7 appearances. So good that he’s struck out 14 in 11 2/3 innings, while only walking 5. So good that he leads the team in wins at 3-0. So good, with multiple good pitches, that he’s probably a better starter right now than half of the rotation. Yes, I said half, which I know means 2 1/2 pitchers, but whatever.
So it begs the question, should Clippard be moved to the starting rotation? We know he can start, he did it a ton in the minors and was brought up as one. He started a couple of games in 2008 and did alright, and he’s a much better pitcher now. There is plenty of evidence that he’s one of the best pitchers on the team this season so far, and could keep this team winning if he puts in 6-7 innings a game every 5 days instead of 1-2 innings every two days.
Then again, there are major issues. Maybe he won’t be as effective. Maybe he can’t handle starting and coming out of the bullpen is what makes him so effective. Maybe once he’s out of the bullpen, it will be revealed to be horrendous without him and the Nats won’t win any games regardless of how well the starters do. So I ask, what do you think?
*Originally I wrote as the last option that he’ll “give up 4 homers in a row again soon.” I realize that was former Yankee Chase Wright, not Tyler Clippard