On Matt Capps’ struggles

Today, John Russell said this to the Post-Gazette about his closer:

“One of the things I think has hurt Matt is the consistency of his save opportunities. You go three, five, eight days between saves, and that adrenaline rush changes. You look back, and I think you’ll see he’s done well when he’s had consistent opportunities. A closer needs consistent work.”

This is an interesting concept and it’s true that Capps has been better this year when pitching on no rest than almost any other situation, but that’s a very small sample sized and he’s gotten bombed on both one and two days of rest. Which is to say that I’m not buying it, JR.

What I do think is interesting is when I went to his FanGraphs page to look at his average fastball speed, I found that his fastball speed isn’t down this year (it’s actually at a career-high 93.6), his changeup is nearly 2.5 mph faster than it’s ever been. He’s also throwing his slider way more (21.4%) than in the past couple years, though not nearly as much as he did in 2006.

These numbers back up what we already know; his walks are way up in 2009 (3.2/9 innings, way higher than his previous career high of 1.8/9 in 2007). His command just isn’t the same this year. With less command on his fastball, he’s throwing his slider and changeup more. Since neither are particularly good pitches (especially that changeup … an 87 mph changeup is a terrible pitch for a guy with Capps’ fastball) without his fastball to back them, he’s getting crushed. If Capps doesn’t throw more strikes, it won’t matter if he gets regular work or not.

Pat Lackey

About Pat Lackey

In 2005, I started a WHYGAVS instead of working on organic chemistry homework. Many years later, I've written about baseball and the Pirates for a number of sites all across the internet, but WHYGAVS is still my home. I still haven't finished that O-Chem homework, though.