On the surface, Clippard’s changeup again looked like a plus pitch last season, but with a rising walk rate, a declining K-rate, and an extremely low BABIP, luck was heavily involved in Clippard’s success last season. That’s not to say it’s a bad pitch, but repeated success is less likely the older he gets.
Clippard rarely throws the deuce, tossing it fewer than 40 times last season. It rarely misses bats (12 career strikeouts) and is generally an afterthought in his arsenal.
Clippard’s fastball has been one of the most consistent relief offerings of the last decade. Throwing out two down year outliers, he’s never allowed batters to tote higher than a .320 wOBA against the heater. Last year’s BABIP was comically low (.091), so there’s no way the pitch will reproduce the same elite numbers as last season.
An O-swing rate of 41% and stellar command of the pitch (last year, and throughout his career) has made Clippard’s splitter a reliable secondary pitch. A career .176 wOBA from opposition shows just how fooled hitters have been.
Despite a significant drop in velocity in the latter stages of his career (and an anomaly year in 2017), Clippard’s fastball has been a reliable pitch for the reliable reliever. His SwStr% with the pitch has hovered around 13% for his whole career, and as is his the case with good middle relievers, he throws it consistently for strikes.
For years, Clippard’s changeup was amongst the league’s best, and despite a slight drop-off, still shows as one of the better off-speed offerings for a middle reliever. The significant velocity drop and the sneaky movement make this pitch tough for batters to time.
Clippard’s splitter has been his third pitch throughout his career, but he’s used it extremely effectively. He’ll carry a meager .141 BAA on the pitch into 2019.