|Capps has struggled through some tough outings (Photo: AP)|
Last night's game was a fitting example of some of the failures in the Twins bullpen. Carl Pavano started the game and pitched seven innings. He did not pitch outstanding but he exited the game with a three-run lead. The Twins turned to Joe Nathan for the eighth inning and he struggled to get outs. For the second time in his last two appearances, Matt Capps would be asked to enter the game with inherited runners on base. Capps would eventually surrender the lead in the top of the ninth and the team would go on to lose the game in extra innings.
Last night's outing marked the fourth time that Capps has entered a game in the eighth inning, since being placed back in the closers role. It can be difficult for closer to adapt themselves to these types of situations. A closer is use to entering a game with a lead, no one on base, and a clean slate in front of them. This is especially nice for Capps who has shown the tendency over his career to give up close to a hit an inning. Capps is not a shut down closer and by having him enter the game with runners on base, there is a good chance of the opposition scoring.
Matt Capps' Attempts at Saves of 1+ innings (2011)
May 4 @ Chicago (1.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H)
Game Result: Twins win 3-2 (Capps Save)
May 11 vs. Detroit (1.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 H)
Game Result: Twins lose 7-9 (Capps Blown Save)
May 21 @ Arizona (1.0 IP, 4 ER, 4 H)
Game Result: Twins lose 6-9 (Capps Blown Save)
May 23 vs. Seattle (1.2 IP, 1 ER, 2 H)
Game Result: Twins lose 7-8 (Capps Blown Save)
There have been many things that have forced the Twins to turn to Capps in early situations in the game. The lack of consistency from other members of the bullpen has made managing the late-innings a circus for the coaching staff. The Twins need to find a way to get to the ninth inning with the lead. As the outings show above, Capps can not be relied on to get five to six outs a game on a constant basis.
The struggle for the Twins to win games seems like it is going to span most of the 2011 season. It seems ridiculous to have Capps be relied upon as the sole savior at the back end of the bullpen. With the recent injury to Glen Perkins and the inconstancy of the other pitchers, the most reliable option in the bullpen is Capps.
The Twins have other options to turn to at the minor league level to help smooth out the dicy bullpen situation. Some fans have been clamoring to see the likes of Chuck James and Carlos Gutierrez added to the 25-man roster. As this season progresses, both of these pitchers could see time with the club. But for right now, the Twins are going to have to struggle through the late-innings with the arms that they have.
Capps can not be relied on to pitch in these multiple inning outings to lead the team to a victory. His career WHIP and H/9 show that he is going to allow base-runners. These base-runners have come around to cross the plate and they continue to cause headaches for Twins fans across the Upper Midwest.
A player needs to step up and fill the late-inning role while Perkins is gone for the next 3-4 weeks. The problem is that player might not be on the current Twins roster.