Carter Capps Works to Adjust Delivery


Credit: USA Today Sports

After being assessed with two illegal pitches on Sunday, Carter Capps is already working on adjustments with both El Paso Chihuahua pitching coaches, Bronswell Patrick and Akinori Otsuka.

When asked if the organization would be in touch with Major League Baseball to get their official position on Sunday’s rulings, Patrick confirmed that would be happening today.

Capps was not using a hop as part of his delivery when throwing off a mound prior to Monday’s game.

He was dragging his toe, and there was no daylight between his toe and the mound. The delivery is significantly more conservative than the deliveries showcased in the Fangraphs article asserting his delivery was illegal.

To be fair, the delivery they covered in that article certainly looks like it should be illegal. Especially the 2015 footage where he hops a quarter of the way down the mound.

Going through the rule book though, I failed to find exactly what rule he would have been breaking in 2015. The more you dig, the more you find no one actually quotes a rule.

Plenty of articles have been written about Carter Capps’ illegal delivery, but they basically seem to say it’s illegal because it looks illegal. Major League Baseball did make a change in 2017 which does seem to address the delivery.

The 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. If there is a runner, or runners, on base it is a balk under Rule 6.02(a); if the bases are unoccupied it is an illegal pitch under Rule 6.02(b).
When you read that it seems to say that the delivery below is illegal.

But if you watch the pitches that were deemed illegal against Albuquerque recently, I think you’d have trouble making the case that Capps took “a second step toward home plate”. (Skip to 0:38)

Pitching coach Bronswell Patrick said that the team just wants to know if Capps is doing the right thing, but when asked specifically where in the rule book the violation being called was, Patrick laughed and said he had no idea. He emphasized that that’s what they’re hoping the league will clarify and that Capps just wants to know what the league wants so he can do the right thing. It’s clear that both the organization and Capps are frustrated with the lack of clarity. First the hop+drag was entirely ok. Then the direction of the drag and the height of the hop became points of friction. Now it appears certain MiLB umpires are trying to ensure there is no hop at all, or something. Funny thing is, if Fangraphs has it right, the interpretation of the rule that will stand is that his funky delivery that started all the controversy in 2015 will be deemed legal after all.

One last note. If you don’t believe that Capps is serious about dragging his toe, just look at his cleats.

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