Miami Marlins' reliever Carter Capps never wanted to change the delivery that got him promoted to a major league roster. But after offseason discussions with Seattle executives, Capps felt obligated to make the necessary adjustments. Working with a new squad after a winter trade sent him to Miami, Capps is reverting back to his original motion to maximize productivity.
"I'm trying to get a little more use out of my legs, like I used to pitch," Capps said in an interview with MLB.com. "When I went to Seattle, I changed some things around. I'm trying to get back to pitching the way I used to pitch."
Capps, who went 3-3 last season with a 5.49 ERA in 59 innings pitched, has been inconsistent in the few spring appearances he has made. He is only 23, but using age as an excuse to justify inefficiency is unnecessary considering the praise he has received from league officials as a result of an above-average fastball.
One of the adjustments is with his left leg making a slight turn towards second base.
"He's got a funky little delivery," manager Mike Redmond said. "I know Chuck and Reid have gone back and looked at a bunch of video of him over the last year or so. They're trying to get him back to what he was when he first came into the league.
"He's made a few adjustments with his delivery. He's mixed in a little turn, hopefully that gives him a little more time for that arm to catch up."
While he was asked to make the necessary adjustments, Capps' 3.51 walks per nine innngs is something Miami's brass is looking to build off of. Capps is expected to serve as the Marlins' primary setup man to closer Steve Cishek, and as seen in the past with former closer Leo Nunez (who tipped his pitches in an attempt to improve his slider), mid-season delivery changes are not always successful.
Should he become Redmond's primary choice in the seventh and/or eighth inning of a close game, Capps will have to improve his command. Despite throwing two shutout innings on Thursday, he issued a walk to begin the afternoon and at times had difficulty finding the zone.
Capps' 95 mph fastball is not necessarily an exclusive advantage. 68% of his 2013 pitches, according to FanGraphs, were fastballs, which complemented the occasional slider, curveball, and changeup. Regardless of the velocity, his ability to hold a lead will be dependent on the way in which he utilizes his repetoire.
To this point, Capps in five Grapefruit League innings has posted a 3.60 ERA while striking out five and walking three. With starters expected to go deeper into games, Capps' role will become increasingly significant late in games. Much like Nathan Eovaldi had to do earlier this spring, Capps will have to come to the realization that his fastball alone, regardless of his delivery, may not always be the best option.
"Pound the fastball in there," Capps said. "I started doing that after the first batter. I got into a little rhythm. I'm trying some new stuff. I'm not going to be picture perfect the first time out. I was happy with how it went, and I was happy with the results."