When the Mets acquired Tyler Clippard from the Oakland Athletics in July, they envisioned Clippard being their lock-down eighth-inning setup guy. At the beginning, Clippard delivered as promised. In his first 17.2 innings in a Mets uniform, the former Washington Nationals reliever had a minuscule 0.52 ERA while yielding only one home run. That was the good Tyler Clippard.
However, since the calendar has turned to September, we have seen the bad Tyler Clippard. The 30-year-old is the owner of a 6.94 ERA in 11.2 innings this month. One of the most alarming statistics from his September blow-up is his home run total: four. Clippard had yielded just four home runs all year before September. A couple of weeks ago we portentously suggested that it was only a matter of time before Clippard began to give up more long balls.
In conjunction with Clippard's high ERA, opponents are hitting .283 against the righty in September. That is by far the highest opponent batting average in any month for Clippard this year. The second highest was only .194 in April. With his devastating changeup and deceptive motion, Clippard is usually excellent at inducing weak contact when batters put the ball in play. He has a career .232 BABIP, but in September his BABIP is .281. It's possible that Clippard is running into bad luck on balls put into play, though the home runs are a somewhat different matter since those aren't technically "in play."
It shouldn't be a complete shock that Clippard is struggling in September, however. Over his career, Clippard's highest monthly ERA is 4.14 in September. His next highest monthly ERA is 3.29 in June. Late-season fatigue could certainly be a factor, which may explain why Terry Collins opted to use Hansel Robles in the eighth inning in last night's win over the Reds.
While Clippard has been awful in September, Addison Reed, who came over from the Arizona Diamondbacks at the trade deadline, has been the opposite. Reed boasts 12.2 scoreless innings in September while racking up 13 strikeouts. In a larger sample size, Reed has a 0.93 ERA in the second half of the year spanning 29 innings.
With Clippard's struggles and Reed's surge, Terry Collins might have to reconsider the sequence of his bridge to Jeurys Familia.