Miami Marlins pitcher Carter Capps throws a bullpen session Monday in Jupiter, Florida.

Miami Marlins pitcher Carter Capps throws a bullpen session Monday in Jupiter, Florida.

Ex-Mariner Capps a contender to close for Marlins

JUPITER, Fla. — Here’s a sure sign of success: Kids are starting to impersonate Carter Capps’ bizarre hop-skid-and-hurl delivery.

It’s within the rules — barely — and extremely effective, producing a 100 mph fastball that makes Capps a contender to become the Miami Marlins’ closer this season.

But the 6-foot-4 right-hander doesn’t recommend anyone throw the way he does.

“Every now and then somebody says they saw a Little Leaguer trying to do it,” Capps said. “I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, please don’t let them do that.’ It’s so bad.”

Capps’ delivery drew complaints last season as he blossomed into a dominating reliever. He had 58 strikeouts in 31 innings, and his rate of 16.8 strikeouts per nine innings was the highest in the majors.

“You always find something to complain about if a guy is wearing you out,” new Marlins manager Don Mattingly said.

Most of the team’s roster and roles are set as spring training begins, but Mattingly has declared an open competition for the closer job between Capps and incumbent A.J. Ramos.

“Both of those guys are outstanding,” Mattingly said. “A.J. has done the job, and Capps profiles as that guy. It’s a good problem for us.”

Ramos became a closer for the first time in 2015. He replaced a struggling Steve Cishek, now with the Seattle Mariners, in May and had 32 saves in 38 chances with an ERA of 2.30.

But Ramos understands why the Marlins would consider replacing him with Capps.

“You look at his makeup, and you see closer all over him,” Ramos said. “He has electric stuff. He’s got everything you need in the book for a closer.”

Capps, 25, is a former college catcher who was drafted as a pitcher by the Mariners. They traded him to Miami two years ago for first baseman Logan Morrison, and he blossomed last season, when he had an ERA of 1.16 in 30 games.

He attributes his improvement to his slider, which became a reliable second pitch that made him equally effective against hitters from both sides. Lefties batted .160 against Capps, righties .175.

Success intensified debate about his delivery. He appears to lunge toward the plate and drags his right toe more than a foot before releasing the ball, which leaves behind a zigzag skid mark.

While he was still at Triple-A New Orleans last April, an umpire twice ruled he threw an illegal pitch. MLB subsequently said his motion was legal.

“It was just an issue for two weeks,” Capps said. “It blew up. That’s all settled, and MLB was happy with how it turned out, and so was I.”

The fuss amused teammates, and first baseman Justin Bour learned to mimic the delivery.

“He does a really good impression,” Capps said with a smile. “He’s surprisingly fleet of foot.”

The Marlins’ biggest worry now regarding Capps is not his foot-dragging, but his elbow. He said he’s healthy now, but he missed the final two months of last season because of a sore right elbow, and sat out three months in 2014 for the same reason.

Durability concerns might be an argument to give Capps the closer’s job, Mattingly said, because regulating his usage would reduce wear on his arm.

Capps hasn’t been asked to save games since 2012, when he was in Double-A. But the closer’s job has long been his goal.

“That’s the apex as a relief pitcher,” he said. “You’re the top dog.”

Talk to us

More in Sports

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert celebrates during the second half of a men's Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament semifinal game against UCLA, Saturday, April 3, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Edmonds native Kispert drafted by Wizards at No. 15 overall

Former Gonzaga star Corey Kispert was selected by the Washington Wizards in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert shoots during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Dixie State in Spokane, Wash., Tuesday, Dec. 29, 2020. Gonzaga won 112-67. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
The rise of Kispert: From Edmonds to All-American to the NBA

Edmonds native Corey Kispert is set to be a 1st-round NBA draft pick. Here’s the story of his ascent.

Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Diego Castillo delivers to the Boston Red Sox during the ninth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Mariners acquire closer Diego Castillo from Rays

Seattle ships reliever JT Chargois and minor-leaguer Austin Shenton to Tampa for the 27-year-old.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox blow 3-run lead in 9th, fall to Emeralds

Jake Anchia homers twice, but Everett’s bullpen falters late in an 11-9 defeat.

Shorecrest's Ben Silber (pictured) and Edmonds-Woodway's Paige Oliver finished second in the Mixed Doubles division at the Snohomish Summer Smash tennis tournament on July 22-25, 2021, at Snohomish High School. (Photo by Kristi Lin)
Community roundup: Locals claim doubles title at Summer Smash

Plus, Mariner hoops standout BJ Kolly signs with WWU, EvCC hires a new women’s soccer coach, and more.

Seattle Seahawks defensive players run on the field as fans watch NFL football practice Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Seahawks hit the field as training camp begins

Jamal Adams, seeking a new contract, was a spectator on the first day of practice.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) eyes the puck against the Vegas Golden Knights in the third period of Game 1 of an NHL hockey Stanley Cup second-round playoff series Sunday, May 30, 2021, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)
Kraken make splash to start free agency, ink goalie Grubauer

Seattle also adds forwards Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Wennberg on a busy opening day.

AquaSox's manager, Louis Boyd, Funko Field at Everett Memorial Stadium in Everett on July 28, 2019. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
AquaSox split doubleheader with Emeralds

Everett’s offense bounces back after a quiet first game and slugs three home runs in the nightcap.

Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Kendall Graveman works against the Colorado Rockies during the ninth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, July 20, 2021, in Denver. The Mariners won 6-4. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
Mariners trade top reliever Graveman to rival Astros

Seattle receives infielder Abraham Toro and pitcher Joe Smith in return; Dipoto says more to come.

Most Read