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Tyler Clippard joins the Indians on a minor league deal

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The veteran will battle for a bullpen role this spring

Oakland Athletics v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

The Cleveland Indians signed Tyler Clippard to a minor league contract with a bonus for making the 25-man roster and additional incentives.

In 754 Major League innings the two-time All-Star owns a career 3.16 ERA. While most bullpen arms are expected to enter the game and throw an inning with blistering fastballs and withering off-speed offerings, Clippard differs in his approach. He ranked in the bottom quarter of all MLB pitchers last season in fastball velocity. Still, he induces weak contact and misses bats as well as many flamethrowers:

That Expected Batting Average based on quality of contact (xBA) puts him in the 93rd percentile, and his hard hit % in the 90th, to give some additional context to the statistical sliders generated by Statcast above. This weak contact profile isn’t a fluke; Clippard owns a career BABIP of .242 through last season. According to Brooks Baseball he achieved this primarily with a 4-seam fastball, change-up, splitter, and slider. Toward the end of the 2018 season his 4-seam usage dropped dramatically as he also toyed with a curveball and 2-seamer.

With an average of 66 innings pitched per season since 2015, Clippard represents a stable, affordable, moderate-upside addition to the Indians’ bullpen. It isn’t likely that he’ll step up and become a bullpen ace, but he may settle nicely into a setup role.