Heading into the All-Star Break in 2011, after a scoreless inning of work against the Colorado Rockies in the first-half finale, Washington Nationals' right-hander Tyler Clippard, the Nats' lone All-Star representative that year, had a 1.75 ERA and a 3.40 FIP, with 18 walks (3.16 BB/9), 63 Ks (11.05 K/9), 10 ER and seven HR's allowed, a .150 BAA and a .185 BABIP over 51 ⅓ IP. Nats' skipper Davey Johnson was excited for the then-26-year-old reliever.
"I think it's great," Johnson told reporters. "I really didn't want to use him on [Sunday] because I know he's going to probably pitch in the All-Star Game, but we needed that one bad and I needed him in that eighth inning."
Clippard's success in the first-half that season led to speculation that the right-hander might possibly be dealt by the end of that month. He was asked about possibly being dealt by MLB Network Radio hosts Holden Kushner and Joel Sherman that week, but Clippard said he wanted to stay in the nation's capital:
"For me personally, I want to stick around here in Washington. I mean, I love this city. Our organization is up-and-coming, we've got a lot of great things going on and I was here, part of this organization when we were going really bad, and when things were in shambles. And so, if I can stick around here for the long-term and to see the turn-around that this organization can possibily make, I think that would be really, really special, and hopefully that happens, cause I love it here."
Clippard faced one batter in the 2011 Midsummer Classic, inheriting a two-on, two-out jam in the top of the fourth. He gave up a single to left by Adrian Beltre, but an out on a play at home plate got him out of the inning. Prince Fielder hit a three-run home run in the bottom of the inning and the National League went on to win the game, so he earned the win in his first All-Star appearance.
He wasn't dealt that month, of course.
Clippard took over as the Nationals' closer in 2012 when Drew Storen went down with an injury and other options faltered. He helped bring postseason baseball back to the nation's capital for the first time since 1933, continued to dominate opposing hitters in 2013 and this weekend was named an All-Star for the second time when Jordan Zimmermann's right bicep strain left the Nationals without a representative for this year's edition of the Midsummer Classic.
For twenty-four hours after Zimmermann's injury, it appeared as if the Nats would be without representation this time around.
Current Nationals' skipper Matt Williams was informed during the first-half finale in Philadelphia on Sunday that the Nats' set-up man would be heading to Minnesota to make his second All-Star appearance.
"The National League announced it," Williams told reporters. "Katy Feeney announced it during our game, so happy for Clipp. Happy to have another guy represent our club and go. He's excited about it."
Williams said he spoke with NL skipper Mike Matheny of the Cardinals over the last few days to recommend possible replacements for Zimmermann from the Nationals' roster.
"I've talked to Mike over the last few days," he said. "Again, a lot was riding on who was pitching today that was originally on the club and I guess there were a couple of other changes too. So, guys that would pitch today, especially starters, would not have an opportunity to pitch on Tuesday anyway, so happy for Clipp."
The Nationals' late-inning reliever ended the first half of the 2014 campaign with a 2.03 ERA, a 2.49 FIP, 18 walks (4.05 BB/9) and 53 Ks (11.93 K/9) in 40 IP over which he's held opposing hitters to a .210 AVG.
Clip: "I'm happy to go out there & represent our team...I'm honored to do it. I feel like it's a necessity to have the Curly W out there."— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 13, 2014