The Pirates need a new closer. Matt Capps has been absolutely terrible this year, and until he proves that he’s fixed himself, there’s no use in having him close out games because nights like last night are going to happen again and again. For a couple years now, I’ve often wondered how Capps has had so much success with a decent fastball and little else in his repertoire. The answer has always been his incredible control. He can put that fastball wherever he wants it, and that allows him to stay away from hitters’ power zones. The control isn’t there this year and that makes him a batting practice pitcher. It took him 5 pitches tonight to flush away everything that Paul Maholm, Tyler Yates, and John Grabow did in the first eight innings. That’s unacceptable.
Maholm held the Rockies to give hits in seven innings and bounced back very nicely from his awful start against the Mets last week. This is now two times in his last three starts that he’s pitched very well and gotten no offense or bullpen support, leaving him without wins in either start. Tonight, the offense stuck out ten times in seven innings against Jorge de la Rosa without drawing a walk while Andy LaRoche ran right into an out in the second inning with a runner on third when he failed to pay attention to where the throw from the outfield was directed and the offense stranded seven runners one night after they stranded ten. And the bullpen tried to blow the 1-0 lead an inning earlier, but got an assist from the umpires when it was wrongly ruled that Seth Smith left third base early on what should’ve been a sac fly by Troy Tulowitzki. So Capps was the reason for the loss, but the rest of the team played the role of enablers.
There was one other thing from the broadcast that I thought was worth mentioning. Tim Neverett and Bob Walk spent a lot of time talking about the outfield positioning with Nyjer Morgan shading over towards left center very heavily in most situations. The reason for that is interesting; the notch in left-center makes it a real alley for extra base hits and having the speedy Morgan play more towards it theoretically takes away some of these doubles and triples. That makes sense to an extent, but I don’t buy the reasoning given by Neverett and Walk that the coaching staff is OK with giving up the left field line because “most hits down the line are going to go for extra bases anways.” This was perfectly illustrated by Ian Stewart’s leadoff double in the ninth. It hung in the air forever and if Morgan had even been positioned normally (he was still shaded waaaay over in a situation where 99% of teams would have their outfielders guarding the lines to prevent doubles), it would’ve been an easy flyout. But Morgan couldn’t get to the ball and it bounced over the short left-field fence for a ground rule double. I guess given the lay of PNC Park’s outfield, there’s no right answer to this question, but I’d be inclined to want more space between the two fastest outfielders on the team, assuming that their speed could cover it. The Pirates have instead chose the opposite.
And finally, I won’t complain about Craig Monroe replacing the torrid Brandon Moss against a lefty, but why in the hell was Ramon Vazquez pinch-hitting for Andy LaRoche with the game on the line? That was a b——-t move. Way to have faith in your players, JR.