Bad news for the Marlins, besides the fact that they play for Jeffrey Loria, as the utterly dominant Carter Capps was diagnosed with a torn ulnar-collateral ligament (UCL) and will be out for the year. He will have Tommy John surgery performed by Dr. James Andrews today.
Capps took a huge leap forward in 2015, by scrapping his changeup and focusing on throwing a knuckle-curve to supplement his amazing velocity (he reached as high as 102 MPH last year). Combined with his strange crow-hop delivery (which might not be totally legal), he completely baffled hitters, giving up just four runs in 31 innings while striking out almost half of the batters he faced (58/118, 49.15%). He also managed to cut his walks significantly as well. He also missed virtually all of the last two months of the season with elbow problems.
He was being counted on to be a major part of the Marlins bullpen in 2016, as potentially one of the best set-up men in the league, and perhaps even supplanting A.J. Ramos at closer. Now, Bryan Morris and Kyle Barraclough will have to shoulder much more of the burden, while opening up spots in middle relief for lesser options. It's not enough to sink the Marlins, of course, but it is a concern and leaves a team with a thin margin of error with even less room to maneuver. The club was already projected to win somewhere between 75-80 games, and this obviously doesn't help. The road to a wild card is still passable, just harder.
Capps is obviously going to be gone for all of 2016, and there's a good chance that he misses a bunch of 2017 as well. Given that he was experiencing elbow troubles last year, it's natural to speculate if he should have had this procedure then, allowing him to be available for all of 2017. We can't know for certain what the Marlins knew at that point, and whether waiting was a better course of treatment. Still, as a Twins fan, when I see a guy go down with arm trouble one year, have nothing done, and then come back the next season to almost immediately require surgery, it feels damn familiar and bears watching.