Velocity uptick bodes well for Capps

Velocity uptick bodes well for Capps

NEW YORK -- After Matt Capps saved his first game as a member of the Nationals on Thursday night, a 6-5 win over the Phillies, a lot of baseball experts made a big deal that his fastball was clocked as high as 95 mph. In other words, Capps is back to being the pitcher who had a 2.28 ERA and 18 saves for the Pirates in 2007.

But Capps said recently that his fastball was clocked as high as 94 mph last season with the Pirates. He acknowledged, however, that his fastball didn't have the same zip in 2008, when he suffered bursitis in his right shoulder.

"I was healthy last year. My velocity was up from 2008," Capps said. "Most of '08 I was hurt. I knew I was hurt early in the season. It took a while before I said anything. I was getting guys out. It's hard to say something was hurting when you go out there and you are finishing games and you have [close to a 3.00 ERA].

"I don't feel any different than I did at the beginning of last year. My velocity was up from 92 to 94 [mph]. On Thursday, I was throwing a little harder. It was also a pretty intense situation."

To maintain his velocity, Capps does towel drills before games. He throws a towel on the mound. By doing this, he doesn't have the wear and tear that he would have if he was throwing the baseball. The drill also helps him determine if his mechanics are off.

"There is no trick to it. You know when something is not right," Capps said. "I used to do it in high school all the time. I did it in the Minors. There are a lot of pitching coaches who don't believe in it. [Nationals pitching coach Steve McCatty] is a big believer in it. I did it a few times in Spring Training. Thursday was the first time that I did it since the season started. This is something you will see me do regularly."