The Mad Capper’s Fastball May 08 vs May 09


Many people are saying that Pirates closer Matt Capps has lost some umphhhhh on his fastball.  He has given up a hit in each of his last eight appearances.  He has been knocked around in three of his last five outings.  Surely something must be wrong with his fastball?  I wanted to be certain and went over to Dan at Brooksbaseball and did some digging.

At this time last year, Capps already had ten saves.  His confidence was high.  His fastball wasn’t off the chart except on one occassion during this period last year, when he earned his tenth save against the Cubs and gave up a run.  He maxed at 95.8 in that outing.  He has thrown a heater at 95.9 this year.  So most of this talk about pitch speed is nothing at the moment but an isolated incident.

What I found was his location was better last year.  Last night he was in the heart of the plate.  He wasn’t doing that consistently in the month of May last year.   And of course, he was a bigger boy last year as well.  His offseason work has him looking in better shape, but not displaying the control we have seen in the past.

Over the course of the same time period last year, he was not throwing harder consistently.

 May 2008

May 2 vs. Nats.  Non-save situation.  He threw 13 pitches.  One fastball touched 95, his average fastball speed was 92.9.

May 7 vs. Giants.  Capps got his seventh save.  He threw eight pitches and his max speed on the fastball was 93.  His average speed was 92.1.

May 8 vs Giants.  Capp got his eighth save.  He threw 23 pitches and his max speed on his fastball was 93.6.  Average speed was 91.87

May 10 vs. Braves.  Capps got his ninth save.  He threw seven pitches and his max speed on the fastball was 92.9.

May 13 vs. Cards.  Non save situation. Pirates won 8-4.  He threw eight pitches in the tenth inning gave up no hits.  His max speed on the fastball was 92.

Capps had the heater on this day.  The Pirates climbed to 21-22 on May 17, 2008 vs. Cubs.  He recorded his tenth save in spite of giving up a run on two hits.  22 pitches max speed 95.8. Avg speed on the fastball 94.06

Matt Capps next appearance was one inning of work in a 4-1 loss to the Brewers, May 21, 2008 against the Brewers.  6 pitches.  Gave up one hit but escaped with no runs scored.  His max fastball speed was 91.2

May 2009 

Capps threw 23 fastballs on May 2, 2009.  His max was 95 on his last pitch thrown.  Capps average fastball was 92.85

Against the Brewers on May 4, 2009.  Capps threw 36 pitches; 27 heaters.  His max was 94.1 and his average fastball was 92.99

When Capps returned on May 12 he was impressive with his heat.  Topping out at 95.9 and averaging 94.2 on his 16 fastballs thrown!

Capps threw four pitches to grab his sixth save on May 13, 2009.  His fastball was thrown twice 95.3 was the fastest one.

Matt Capps against the Rockies Friday night May 15, 2009.  21 pitches thrown max speed on the fastball was 93.5  Average speed on his fastball was 92.26.

Capps location and speed was bad Friday night and it proved to be a lethal combination on this night.

Nothing more,  Nothing less, in spite of a lot of work from our researchers.  Thanks Dan at for your help.

UPDATE:  As I was talking to some contacts and also listening to the broadcast, Pirate Pitching Coach Joe Kerrigan did some studying last night comparing 08 Moss versus 09 Moss.  JR said, ‘he was overrotating on his delivery.  Joe looked at tape until late last night and came in this morning and looked it over again.’

DK said this at PBC Blog… his left shoulder is turning too far toward third base during his delivery. That, Russell said, has made it tough for him to pitch to left-handers…

I imagine the Pirates and Capps will get this worked out.  I trust we can see Capps again tonight.

Capps BB/9IP

2008: 0.84  2009 4.9

Capps K/9IP

2008: 6.5  2009 7.36

Capps AVG Against

2008: .237  2009 .380

Capps WHIP

2008: .097  2009  2.27