It seems like no National gets more scrutiny than Matt Capps. Only a few weeks ago the media had decided that Capps had given up his 2009 ways for good and now they are calling for his head. Adam Kilgore at the Washington Post places the blame on Capps' recently unexceptional slider. Though the PitchFx stats for Capps' most recent games are not in, his horizontal movement on his slider does appear to be down from last year.
A weak slider could be the reason Capps is getting smacked around. And he is getting smacked around. In his last 12 games-the period of his "collapse"-Capps has allowed a LD% of .25; a scary number but not as scary as 0.25, Capps' HR/FB% in that span. Perhaps hitters are waiting back on the slider and pounding it, as Scott Rolen did last Sunday.
But just how strong is this evidence of a collapse? For one, the sample size is so small that removing just two line drives drops Capps' LD% to .20 and removing one HR drops the HR/FB% to .17, the first number being about average and the second not nearly as frightening as before. For another, we also need to consider the evidence for Capps, which is ample. His GB% (.48) and FB% (.27) over the same span are pretty good and his K/BB (8) is fantastic. The most telling statistic, however, is this: 0.500, Capps' BABIP in that span. Anybody think that one's likely to regress to the mean?
So let's not send Matt Capps to the gallows quite yet. It could be true that is flat slider is going to get him pounded all season. But it could also be true that his slider will soon return to form. (Or will he stop getting so unlucky.) Even if it doesn't, there are several indicators, and perhaps the best fastball of his career, working in Capps' favor. If a closer change must be made, however, I suggest the dependable Tyler Walker, though Tyler Clippard may be a more popular choice. Remember, though, these guys aren't immune to bad luck either. And with Capps' saves the last two nights, maybe this kind of talk is behind us-for now.