Carter Capps celebrated his 27th birthday on August 7. He celebrated it by not just being called up to the majors by the San Diego Padres, but also making his Padre debut. It was the first time a player has made his debut with the team on his birthday.
Capps pitched two-thirds of an inning in the Padres’ 11-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed three runs on one hit. Capps left the game with two outs in the eighth inning and the bases loaded. Maton inherited all three runners and gave up a grand slam to Patrick Kivlehan.
The reliever has had a rocky journey to this point. While playing for the Miami Marlins, he suffered an injury near the end of the 2015 season that required Tommy John surgery. When the injury occurred, he had sported a 1.16 ERA with 58 strikeouts over 31 innings pitched. He had an insane 16.8 K/9 over that span.
He was traded to the Padres from the Marlins on July 29, 2016, while he was rehabilitating from having Tommy John surgery. He was acquired along with Jarred Cosart, Josh Naylor, and Luis Castillo, in exchange for Andrew Cashner, Colin Rea, and Tayron Guerrero. Colin Rea went down with an injury after one start for the Marlins and was sent back to the Padres in exchange for Castillo.
Capps was present at the Padres’ spring training facility in February, but a new problem arose. Major League Baseball made a change to Rule 5.07, stating that “a pitcher may not take a second step toward home plate with either foot or otherwise reset his pivot foot in his delivery of the pitch.” Capps had a delivery that was anything but normal. Before the ball left his pitching hand, he would hop towards home plate with his pivot foot before his front foot planted on the ground. He would have to revamp his delivery.
Capps spent time on the 60-day D.L. for an ankle injury back in April. He didn’t begin pitching for the El Paso Chihuahuas until July 14 as the team allowed him to slowly mend. From that point up until he was called up to the Padres, he had pitched 25.1 innings, striking out 28, and posted a 2.81 ERA for El Paso.
Capps made his Padres debut in the bottom of the eighth inning. After getting Adam Duvall to fly out to left field, he gave up a double to Scooter Gennett. He induced a ground ball out from Eugenio Suarez before walking the next two batters.
That appearance surely didn’t go the way Capps and the Padres had hoped. However, this appearance certainly won’t define Capps.
This is a pitcher who looked to be on the path to a promising career before suffering an injury and needing Tommy John surgery. Upon his return to baseball, he was told that his delivery was illegal and needed to be changed. Then he suffered another injury and missed even more time. Carter Capps has had quite the journey to where he is now.
Look for him to get back into his groove and find the stuff he had in 2015. Adversity makes the man. Carter Capps is ready to turn the corner.