I am just astounded by the closer's inability to miss bats here early in the season. I figured he'd rebound a bit after seeing his K-rate drop to a career-low 12 percent last year, but so far the issue has only been magnified. Capps has struck out only two of the 28 batters he's faced, or 7 percent. Last year, no reliever in the majors who threw more than 40 innings had a K-rate below 10 percent.
Not long ago, Capps was perfectly capable of notching a punch-out from time to time, but here in the prime of his career it appears that he's completely lost the ability to fool hitters. He doesn't exactly induce enough weak contact to survive while allowing 90+ percent of hitters to put the ball in play (I don't know that any pitcher does).
So I have two questions for discussion:
1) What's wrong with Capps? His velocity has been decent and he's been mixing in a fair number of sliders but no one's whiffing on his pitches. I suggested last week that his forearm/elbow injury might still be bothering him.
2) If it continues, how much longer can/will the Twins put up with this kind of dismal K-rate before they remove Capps not only from the closer role, but from high-leverage duties period? You could argue that the pitch-to-contact model might be effective when applied to starters, but it's disastrous for a late-inning pitcher and I'd hope the Twins realize that.