New acquisition Clippard: Nats are 'beatable'
Former Washington reliever debuts with scoreless ninth for New York
NEW YORK -- Upon arriving at Citi Field on Tuesday before the Mets' 4-0 victory over the Padres, reliever Tyler Clippard sat down with manager Terry Collins to discuss his role with the team.
Even though Clippard had spent the first half of 2015 as a closer in Oakland, Collins told him he would handle the eighth inning as the Mets' primary setup men, a role with which Clippard is familiar and ready to take on. He made his Mets debut in the ninth inning on Tuesday, needing just 12 pitches to complete a scoreless frame and seal the victory for starter Noah Syndergaard.
"I was anxious to get out there, get that first one under my belt," said Clippard, who said he was a bit rusty after not pitching for six days and arriving to New York around 7:45 a.m. ET Tuesday via a red-eye flight.
Clippard posted a 2.79 ERA in 37 appearances for Oakland this year. Before spending the last few months with the A's, he spent seven seasons with the Nationals, the team the Mets are trying to catch in the National League East. Clippard, who is wearing number 46 with his new team, described his impressions from afar on the Mets as "pitching galore," and he offered an assessment on his former NL East team.
"They're beatable," Clippard said. "There's no perfect team in baseball right now. Everybody can go on skids. Everybody is vulnerable."
New York's acquisition of Clippard, in exchange for pitching prospect Casey Meisner, was made even more important when the team announced Tuesday that reliever Jenrry Mejia was suspended for 162 games for using a performance-enhancing substance. Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said the trade for Clippard was made independent of the Mejia news, noting that the team was already far along in talks with the A's by the time they got word of an impending suspension Monday.
"He is an outstanding reliever," Collins said. "He's got great stuff. He can pitch every day. He gets left-handed hitters out with that tremendous changeup, so we got a lot better today. Certainly we thought our bullpen was pretty good, so when you can improve it immensely, that's a big step."
As a 22-year old with the Yankees in 2007, Clippard made his Major League debut against the Mets at Shea Stadium. That day, he tossed six innings and allowed one run on a solo homer by David Wright -- "I thought that was the coolest thing ever," Clippard said with a laugh Tuesday -- and picked up his first career victory.
He returns to New York to help the Mets try to make the postseason for the first time since 2006. The Mets figure to use Clippard and Bobby Parnell to help get the bridge to closer Jeurys Familia, and the club also hopes its new reliever will limit the need for Familia to have to complete multiple-inning saves.
"It's going to be a lot of fun chasing down my old teammates there in Washington," Clippard said. "There's a lot of incentive there for me on a personal level and professional level to get the job done here in New York."