Thursday, February 19, 2009

Player Profile 3: Matt Capps

In part three of our Quintuple P (Pre-season Pirate Preview Player Profiles), we take a look at our first pitcher, our young closer, Matt Capps. For the previous parts, click here. Alright let's get to it:
Player: Matt Capps
Position: Closer
The Mad Capper enters his fourth full season facing a few questions. For one, there were trade rumors for much of last season that likely only subsided because he got hurt. I don't expect those rumors to subside anytime soon, especially if he starts out pitching like he did in 2007 when he had a very underrated season that had to be among the best 5 relievers in the NL that year. In addition, he reportedly has turned up at camp looking like he's in better shape. It will be interesting to see how that factors in. And lastly, when a crappy team has a very good closer, his role is always a little weird/ awkward. I mean if you only win 70 games and I'd guess 15 or so of those wins aren't save opportunities, you have maybe a few extra-inning wins, and a few comeback wins. So you likely have less than 50 games where a defined "closer" is needed. When a pitcher is as good as Capps you have to find other ways to get him into the game. I'd be more than in favor of using him on occasion in 7th/ 8th inning roles in tight games when we're down by a run. That'd be ideal to try to keep the team in those games instead of rolling out one of the other mediocre relievers.

It also kind of takes you aback when you realize he is just 25 years old. He has quietly been one of the best relievers in the NL the past several seasons. He has shown the all-important rubber arm trait, often pitching on back-to-back days on numerous occasions the past three seasons, and appearing in 85 and 76 games in 06 and 07.

Predicted 2009 Stats: 72 G 76.3 IP 37 Sv 3.37 ERA 1.097 WHIP 54 K 4-5 Record
Assuming Full Health, Chance of Being on the Opening Day Roster: 100%
On Deck: Eric Hinske

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