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Dwork On Sports

The first week of the season hasn’t gone the way that the Miami Marlins had hoped but luckily there are still over five months of baseball to be played.

Something that caught my attention, and the attention of a lot of people around baseball, is the pitching delivery of Marlins reliever Carter Capps.

Not many people had heard of Capps before Monday night when he made his season debut for the Marlins in Atlanta.

That’s when he unveiled his new pitching motion in which Capps uses a hop step as he pushes off of the pitching rubber.  By the time he delivers the ball, Capps is much closer to home plate than most pitchers are when they release the ball.  You can see a video of his delivery, as well as a little analysis, by clicking here.

The hop got a bit of attention last Thursday when Capps was still pitching in Triple-A for New Orleans.  He came out to pitch the ninth inning against Omaha and his first two pitches were called illegal, which makes them automatic balls.

He ended up intentionally walking the batter and coming out of the game instead of messing with the mechanics of his pitching motion. The Marlins then reached out to Major League Baseball to find out why the pitches had been deemed illegal.

“They just said they wanted me to make sure I dragged my foot and not get too elevated in the air, and make sure it’s more on a lateral plane,” said Capps. “As long as I do that, they have no problem with it. But it was very strange.”

For the record, here is what MLB Rule 8.01 (a) says:

The Windup Position. The pitcher shall stand facing the batter, his pivot foot in contact with the pitcher’s plate and the other foot free. From this position any natural movement associated with his delivery of the ball to the batter commits him to the pitch without interruption or alteration. He shall not raise either foot from the ground, except that in his actual delivery of the ball to the batter, he may take one step backward, and one step forward with his free foot.

Capps’ 2015 Marlins debut went well on Monday night.  He pitched the bottom of the eighth inning with Miami trailing 3-1 and put down the Braves in order, throwing just ten pitches despite striking out a batter.

I doubt we’ve heard the last discussion about the legality of Capps’ delivery but at least for now, as far as Major League Baseball is concerned, it’s all good.

UPDATE: Following Wednesday’s win over Atlanta, the Marlins optioned Capps back to Triple-A New Orleans to make room for David Phelps to come off of maternity leave.  Phelps will start for Miami on Friday against the New York Mets.

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