The Washington Nationals agreed to terms on a one-year contract with a mutual option for 2020 with left-handed pitcher Tony Sipp on Thursday. Nationals President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Mike Rizzo made the announcement.
Sipp, 35, went 3-1 with a 1.86 ERA in 54 games for the Houston Astros in 2018. He struck out 42 batters in 38.2 innings (9.8 SO/9.0 IP), walked 13 batters (3.0 BB/9.0 IP) and surrendered just one home run along the way. His 1.86 ERA was a career-best and ranked fourth among Major League left-handed pitchers (min. 30.0 IP). It was the best ERA by an Astros left-handed reliever since Billy Wagner posted a 1.78 ERA in 2003. All told, Sipp offered scoreless relief in 47 of his 54 outings in 2018.
Left-handed batters hit .191 (13-for-68) with a .263 on-base percentage and a .294 slugging percentage against Sipp in 2018. He allowed just five extra-base hits to left-handed batters (4 2B, HR) and struck out 17 lefties while walking six. For his career, Sipp has been effective against both left-handed (.221/.298./.409) and right-handed hitters (.216/.309/.409).
Trusted in high-leverage situations, Sipp allowed just four of 37 inherited runners to score in 2018. His 10.8 inherited runners scored percentage ranked fourth in Major League Baseball.
Sipp enters the 2019 season ranked among active left-handed relievers in innings pitched (2nd, 482.2), opponent batting average (3rd, .219), strikeouts (3rd, 513) and career appearances (3rd, 580). He has reached the 60-appearance mark in six of his 10 seasons, including a career-high 70 appearances in 2010.
Sipp appeared in nine Postseason games between the 2015 and 2018 seasons with the Houston Astros. He allowed just one unearned run on two hits with seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings across those nine appearances.
Sipp is entering his 11th Major League season in 2019. In 580 games between Houston (2014-18), Arizona (2013) and Cleveland (2009-12), Sipp is 25-20 with seven saves and a 3.67 ERA. He was originally selected by the Cleveland Indians in the 45th round of the 2004 First-Year Player Draft out of Clemson (SC) University.