Monday, October 1, 2012

Eye on 2013: Matt Capps

Matt Capps' 2012:
30 games, 14 saves
and about half a
season on the
disabled list.

Matt Capps, semi-official whipping boy of the Twins Internet, opened the season as closer and was OK in that role — not great, but acceptable — into June.

He picked up saves on June 2, 3, 4 and 6 and a win on June 8— five games in seven days, throwing a total of just eight pitches in two of those outings — and at that point things appear to have started to splutter physically. He was given a week between appearances between June 15 and 23, then went on the disabled list for almost three weeks. He came back, made two appearances in three days, went back on the DL, and didn't return until last week.

It's the second year in a row that Capps has experienced arm issues that emerged soon after a period of daily work. That doesn't work well with modern bullpen usage, which tends to lean heavily on the idea that relievers can be used often in short bursts.

Glen Perkins is now in command of the ninth inning job, and nobody seriously believes that the Twins will pick up Capps' $6 million option for 2013. Capps is back, in reality, to audition for  the other 29 teams. He wants to show that his arm is sound going into the offseason and his expected free agency.

But he hasn't gotten much showing in. When he was reactivated, Ron Gardenhire made it known that

  • Capps wouldn't be used on consecutive days and
  • Capps had been told that he wasn't coming back to make one appearance and go home.

Capps returned for two series against teams in the playoff hunt — the Yankees and Tigers — and while the Twins didn't win either series, they were generally playing close games. He has made one appearance, mopping up a loss to the Yankees on Sept. 26, and as far as I know hasn't even warmed up since.

The Twins have a 10-man bullpen right now — well, call it nine, because one of them (probably Brian Duensing) will be called upon to start Tuesday in Sam Deduno's stead — and everybody else is a possible contributor to the 2013 Twins. Gardenhire took the games against the Yankees and Tigers seriously, not as a time to experiment, and right now Perkins, Jared Burton and Casey Fein are the top dogs in the bullpen.

So Capps' idleness last week is explicable. There are three games left, on the road against the non-contending Toronto Blue Jays, and if Capps goes unused in those games, I will be curious about why he was reactivated last week. One isolated appearance wouldn't seem to be much assurance to potential employers.

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