Since beginning the season with five saves over six straight scoreless appearances Matt Capps has blown five saves in 26 chances while going 4-8 with a 6.61 ERA and .342 opponents’ batting average in 48 innings. Despite six straight months of brutal pitching by Capps general manager Neal Huntington said that the 25-year-old righty will remain the Pirates’ closer next year “barring some unforeseen circumstances.”
In other words, Huntington will spend the winter trying to coax a contender into giving up a decent prospect or two for Capps and if that proves unsuccessful thanks to his collapse or history of arm issues will hand him closer duties again next season in the hopes that he can recoup some value. If healthy Capps is a nice bet to bounce back thanks to a solid 45/17 K/BB ratio amid the overall struggles.
While the Pirates’ boss mentions Joel Hanrahan, Jesse Chavez, and Evan Meek as closing alternatives here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Josh Beckett was scratched from his Monday night start at the last minute because of back spasms. Michael Bowden took Beckett’s place against Toronto and allowed seven runs over three innings in his second career start. Beckett was slated to make his final start of the season Saturday, but Terry Francona said afterward that the Red Sox may have him skip that outing as well to make sure he’s ready for the playoffs.
While the Beckett injury threatens to complicate Boston’s postseason rotation plans, the Red Sox did receive some good news Monday when Jon Lester threw a bullpen session. Lester took a Melky Cabrera line drive off his knee Friday night and initially looked seriously injured, but reported no problems during his regular mound session and has been cleared to make his season finale Thursday against the Indians.
* Andy LaRoche hasn’t done a whole lot since the Dodgers traded him to the Pirates in the Manny Ramirez-Jason Bay deal last July, but had a monster afternoon against his former teammates Monday. LaRoche went 5-for-5 with two homers, two doubles, and six RBIs, giving him a .363 batting average and 11 RBIs in 11 games against the Dodgers compared to .222 with 77 RBIs in 244 games against everyone else.
* LaRoche’s offensive explosion wasn’t the only noteworthy aspect of the Pirates’ win over the Dodgers. Zach Duke took a shutout into the ninth inning before Juan Pierre tripled with one out and Chin-lung Hu scored him with a sacrifice fly. At that point he needed just one more out for his seventh career complete game and had thrown just 103 pitches, yet manager John Russell yanked him with a 10-run lead.
Asked afterward why he didn’t just let Duke get the final out, Russell said: “I wanted Zach to have a nice ovation from the fans. We wanted to give the fans an opportunity to appreciate what he did rather than the game just being over.” You know, because apparently the fans who stuck around for the end of an 11-1 game in franchise’s 17th straight losing season wouldn’t have cheered like hell when Duke got the final out.
AL Quick Hits: Matt Wieters remained hot Monday, going 3-for-4 to raise his batting average to a season-high .292 … Mike Lowell will be unavailable for three days after receiving an injection in his hip Monday, which he last had in July … Impending free agent Russell Branyan (back) is not expected to play again this year … John Danks allowed one run in his first career complete game Monday and is now 13-10 with a 3.69 ERA after going 12-9 with a 3.32 ERA last season … David DeJesus (flu) didn’t join the Royals on their season-ending road trip Monday after missing four straight games … Aaron Laffey took his fifth straight loss Monday despite turning in a Quality Start … Luke Hochevar was rocked for eight runs on a dozen hits Monday, falling to 7-12 with a 6.24 ERA … Chris Tillman has been shut down for the year after logging 164.2 innings between the minors and majors … Monday night’s Twins-Tigers game was rained out, so they’ll play a doubleheader Tuesday.
NL Quick Hits: Jair Jurrjens tossed seven shutout innings Monday and has now won four straight starts while allowing three total runs … Hiroki Kuroda coughed up seven runs Monday after going 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA over his last 10 starts … Cole Hamels dropped to 10-10 by giving up six runs in 6.2 innings Monday … Josh Johnson (flu) will start Tuesday after being scratched from his scheduled weekend outing … Ross Detwiler earned his first MLB victory Monday with six innings of one-run ball and will make one more start this weekend … Anibal Sanchez allowed only two hits over five innings Monday, but handed out a career-high eight walks … Miguel Tejada had four hits Monday and is batting .439 during his 15-game hitting streak … Vicente Padilla will work out of the Dodgers’ bullpen during the final week, but could still get a start in the postseason … Carlos Ruiz is hoping to rejoin the lineup Tuesday after deeming his injured wrist “80 percent” healthy.