MLB's new wins leader: Tyler Clippard

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clippard.jpgThe season is one-fifth over, yet a reliever leads the majors in victories. More than that, it’s a Nationals reliever. Tyler Clippard improved to 7-1 after pitching a perfect eighth in a tie game against the Mets on Wednesday. The Nationals scored twice in the top of the ninth and won 6-4, giving Clippard the decision.
Clippard’s win today was change from his most recent three, all of which came after he blew leads. However, that’s pretty deceiving, since he was charged with just one run in those three games. Inherited runners have come around to score off him, but he’s justified a lofty record by amassing a 1.80 ERA in 25 innings this season. Three of the five runs he’s allowed came in his lone loss Tuesday night against the Mets.
Clippard currently leads the majors with his 25 innings in relief and he’s second to Carlos Marmol among relievers with 30 strikeouts. It remains to be seen how he’ll hold up while being ridden like this, but he’s been a key component in the Nationals’ surprising start.

Video: Adrian Beltre and Carlos Beltran give signs from the dugout

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 23:  Adrian Beltre #29 of the Texas Rangers stands in the dugout before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 23, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The Rangers got a bit of a breather on Saturday after clinching the division lead during Friday night’s win. Naturally, it was also a prime opportunity for another of Adrian Beltre‘s well-documented antics, as he spent his off day directing the Rangers’ infield defense with a series of signs. Even with Carlos Beltran‘s help, no one, least of all those playing the infield, appeared to have any idea what Beltre’s gestures were intended to convey.

You can add this to the list of in-game oddities Beltre has become so well-known for over the years, running the gamut from the way he kicked a ball over the foul line to his histrionics every time someone comes close to touching his head. If nothing else, it’s a convincing audition reel for the third baseman’s future in major league coaching — a career path that, I’d imagine, would end up looking something like this:

Yordano Ventura exits game with back tightness

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Royals’ right-hander Yordano Ventura was pulled in the fifth inning of Saturday’s matinee against the Tigers with an apparent injury. After throwing four pitches to start the fifth and serving up a Justin Upton double, Ventura was visited on the mound by head trainer Nick Kenney. Per Rustin Dodd of the Kansas City Star, he’s day-to-day with back spasms and lower back tightness.

It’s just another bump in the road for the defending champions, who currently sit 6.5 games back of a postseason spot with seven left to play. Through 176 innings in 2016, Ventura posted a 4.35 ERA and 1.2 fWAR, a considerable downgrade from the 4.08 ERA and 2.7 fWAR he contributed during last season’s championship year despite a moderate bounce-back in the second half.

Prior to his early exit from Saturday’s game, Ventura went four innings for the Royals, giving up three runs on 10 hits and two walks and striking out six of 24 batters faced.