Washington Nationals reliver Tyler Clippard is currently 7-1. He has an absurd 7 wins in 18 appearances out of the bullpen (Zack Greinke, until yesterday, had an equally absurd 0 wins).
Clippard is on pace for 32 wins. No pitcher in the majors has won 30 games since Denny McLain in 1968. Bob Welsch is the last pitcher to win even 27 games, which he did in 1990 with Oakland.
The Nationals are unlikely to win the NL East, or even the Wild Card. They are basically in a holding pattern until Stephen Strasburg arrives, at which point they will become more entertaining, but not necessarily much better.
So how does one liven up a dull baseball season? By going for spectacle. I propose that the Nationals should try to get Clippard to 30 wins. They should do this by bringing Clippard into every possible opportunity where he can become the pitcher of record, and the Nationals are in line to win the game. So bring him in for the starter in the 5th inning when the Nats are up big. Bring in Clippard when the game is tied in extra innings and Zimmerman and Dunn are coming up in the next half.
Like my college intramural basketball team that kept feeding me the ball so I could score 20 points against the women’s lacrosse team (the only game that season I scored more than 2), the Nationals should keep feeding Clippard decisions. He’d be up to it, too; he threw 153 innings in 2008, so he’s got the stamina.
Imagine the excitement in Washington D.C. as Strasburg pitches every 5th game and every other game contains the potential for Clippard to inch closer to that 30-win plateau. Baseball’s most hallowed records are already tainted by chemical cheating; this would be a statistical embellishment of a very different, and far more entertaining, variety.
*Note: normally I’d have a photo of Clippard accompany this article, but WordPress seems to like photos the way cats like baths.