Breaking down the Tyler Clippard trade

Tyler Clippard scooped all the beat writers by breaking news of his own trade.

The right-handed reliever moved from a team 25 games below .500 to the team with the best record in the American League (and 27 games above .500). Not a bad night for the 32-year-old.

So why did the Astros pull the trigger on acquiring Clippard? Perhaps because in the last 28 days, the team’s pitching staff has an ERA of 5.40.

Since the All-Star Break, the Astros are just 12-16, and a major reason is that opposing batters are having more success. Opponents are slashing .266/.348/.452 compared to .234/.305/.397 before. As a unit, Houston pitchers’ strikeout rate is down, WHIP is up and BABIP is up 28 points. With injuries depleting the rotation and bullpen alike, another arm needed to step up or, in the case of Clippard, step in.

Clippard is a two-time All-Star with a career 3.04 ERA, 9.9 strikeouts per 9 innings and a 1.12 WHIP. This season, Clippard’s ERA is up to 4.27, but since being dealt to the Chicago White Sox, his ERA is 1.80 in 10 innings.

With Will Harris on the disabled list, Clippard should immediately slot in as a high-leverage situational arm in the Chris Devenski-firefighter mold. He certainly has experience in tough situations, earning 32 saves as the Washington Nationals’ closer in 2012 and entering 278 high leverage situations by Baseball Reference’s leverage metric.

Clippard has a reputation as a fly ball pitcher, which is not ideal in the hitter-friendly confines of Minute Maid Park. While an alarming 13.0% of fly balls hit off Clippard as a New York Yankee earlier this season left the ballpark, he has done a better job of limiting hitters with the White Sox.

The Astros’ 18-game division lead from just 18 days ago is down to 12 after the team’s recent five-game losing streak. Astros’ fans, players, and front office staffers alike will hope that Clippard can make an immediate impact and save some arms for the stretch run and postseason.

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