UPDATE: Twins, Matt Capps come to terms on one-year, $4.75 million deal

12 Comments

9:10 p.m. EST update: Capps will earn $4.5 million in 2012, according to ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson. The option is worth $6 million and includes a $250,000 buyout.

6:55 p.m. EST update: Capps and the Twins have a deal for one year with an option for 2013, Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reports.

///

Matt Capps will likely re-sign with the Twins, a source tells Steve Popper of the Bergen Record.

While no one else is confirming the news, it could be telling that the Red Sox are now out of the hunt for Capps, according to Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald.

A Capps-Twins reunion seemed highly unlikely a few months ago, what with Capps routinely getting booed off the mound on his way to blowing nine saves during a rough 2011 season. He did pitch somewhat better late in the year as a setup man for Joe Nathan, but he was never dominant at any point. More discouraging than his 4.25 ERA was the fact that he fanned just 34 batters in 65 2/3 innings. He struck out 59 in 73 innings for Washington and Minnesota in 2010.

Capps, though, is a better fit in Target Field than he would be most anywhere else. He gives up a lot of long flyballs, but most of those turn into outs in Minnesota and he hardly ever walks anyone. It’d still probably make more sense for the Twins to take the draft pick they’d get with his departure and go sign Octavio Dotel instead, but Capps probably will pitch somewhat better in 2012.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

Elsa/Getty Images
11 Comments

Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.