February 20, 2013; Viera, FL, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Tyler Clippard (36) poses for photo day at Space Coast Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Barr-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Preview: Tyler Clippard

For the past few years, righty Tyler Clippard has been one of baseball’s top relievers. He was an All-Star in 2011 with a 1.89 ERA and a 0.838 WHIP, but had his worst season since 2009 last year, with a 3.72 ERA. His baBIP jumped 63 points from 2011 to 2012, so he should settle down somewhere between those two extremes this season. Additionally, Clippard will transition from being the closer, a position from which he earned 32 saves in 2012, to being the third option behind Drew Storen and Rafael Soriano. This may benefit his numbers, because after Clippard converted his first 13 saves, he struggled, and had a 5.94 ERA from mid-July to the end of the season. With these factors in mind, here are Clippard’s 2013 projections:

ZiPS: 79 IP, 95 K, 30 BB, 1.14 WHIP, 2.96 ERA

MLB.com: 71 IP, 80 K, 27 BB, 1.20 WHIP, 3.42 ERA

CBSSports: 84 IP, 100 K, 32 BB, 1.06 WHIP, 2.79 ERA

ESPN Fantasy: 72 IP, 90 K, 28 BB, 1.14 WHIP, 3.21 ERA

Averages: 76.1 IP, 91 K, 29 BB, 1.14 WHIP, 3.10 ERA

Clippard’s projections are all pretty close together. In general, he is expected to return to form as an excellent reliever with lots of strikeouts and few walks. While, earlier in his career, he spoke openly about his desire to close, he will benefit from the lower pressure environment of the 7th or 8th inning. Given his past success, he should get back into the groove of dominating hitters with a solidified role. He won’t be of much value for fantasy, like most non-closers, but could be useful for holds if your league has them, and adds a good ERA and some Ks. In real baseball, Clippard will be a great late-inning weapon for the Nats. Not many teams can say their third closing option had 32 saves last season.

Tags: Tyler Clippard Washington Nationals

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