- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Tyler Clippard is back with the Nationals, but the circumstances that saw the former Washington closer called back up to the big leagues aren’t what the organization envisioned. 

Closer Tanner Rainey was placed on the 60-day injured list Wednesday afternoon with a sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Clippard, a fan favorite during his time in the District from 2008 to 2014, was called up in Rainey’s place. 

Rainey, 29, was 1-3 with 12 saves and a 3.30 earned-run average in 29 games this season. While he’s had his ups and downs, Rainey has largely been a positive in the Nationals’ bullpen, as the hard-throwing right-hander took over the closer role for the first time in his career. 

While the extent of Rainey’s injury is unknown, the UCL sprain as well as being placed on the 60-day IL are both bad signs. The ligament is the same one that is repaired during Tommy John surgery, and the decision to not place him on the 15-day IL first means the team is confident that he’ll be out for at least two months. It’s likely that Rainey’s season is over, and if the ligament requires surgery, he could miss the start of the 2023 campaign.

The team made the announcement in between doubleheader games versus the Mariners on Wednesday. Washington lost the front end of the twinbill 6-4. 

Clippard will now make his reunion in the District, where he last played in 2014. The 37-year-old right-hander has spent the entire season in Triple-A Rochester, pitching to a 2.48 ERA with 49 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings. He had a slow start, but has allowed only three earned runs in his last 27 innings dating back to May 3. 

Clippard was one of the Nationals’ top relievers during his seven seasons in the District. He was an All-Star in 2011 and 2014 as the team’s set-up man. In 2012, he saved 32 games as the club’s closer. 

Clippard’s time in Washington ended in January 2015 when he was traded for shortstop Yunel Escobar. Clippard then became a journeyman, pitching for nine teams — the Yankees, Diamondbacks, Twins, Mets, Athletics, Indians, Astros, Blue Jays and White Sox. He had a 3.20 ERA in 25 1/3 innings with the Diamondbacks last season after missing the first half of the season with a shoulder injury and then seeing his velocity dip to under 89 mph. 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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