The Washington Nationals gambled on Matt Capps after the Pittsburgh Pirates had non-tendered their closer in the winter of 2009. The then-25-year-old right-hander was coming off an '09 campaign in which he was (4-8) with 27 saves, a bloated 5.80 ERA, a 4.90 FIP, 17 BB (2.82 BB/9) and 46 K's (7.62 K/9). The Nats signed Capps to a one-year/$3.5M dollar deal and after he'd gone (3-3) with 23 saves in 41 games and 39.2 first-half innings pitched in which he posted a 3.18 ERA, 7 BB (1.59 BB/9) and 33 K's (7.49 K/9), the then-26-year-old reliever was selected to represent the Washington Nationals as the Nats' seventh All-Star...
LET'S GO CAPPS!!! LET'S GO CAPPS!!!I
D.C. GM Mike Rizzo signed the reliever in January and then flipped the All-Star seven months later at the 2010 trade deadline, acquiring highly-regarded catching prospect Wilson Ramos from the Minnesota Twins along with left-handed reliever Joe Testa, but not until after he'd represented the Nats in Anaheim at the 2010 All-Star Game.
The Nats' closer entered the All-Star game with two down in the sixth inning and Boston's left-handed slugger David Ortiz due up. NL Skipper Charlie Manuel, of the defending NL Champ Philadelphia Phillies, brought Capps in after Phils' ace Roy Halladay had given up a two-out single to the Rangers' Josh Hamilton in the bottom of the 6th with the AL ahead 1-0 after an unforced error by LA Dodgers' pitcher Hong-Chi Kuo in the fifth set up a sac fly that put the American League up as they sought to win their 13th-straight All-Star Game.
Capps started the Red Sox' first baseman/DH with two fastballs outside, 2-0, then threw a 94mph fastball on the outside edge for a called strike. The 6'4'', 230 lb Ortiz fouled off a 2-1 fastball Capps threw a little further outside and then, after Capps shook off three pitches Braves' catcher Brian McCann called for, the Nats' closer threw a two-seam fastball inside to the left-handed hitting Ortiz who took it for a called strike three and the end of the sixth. STARE AT IT PAPI!!!!! • WPA: Doghouse says, "Moar trade value! Matt Capps (+2.5%) goes 0.1 IP, striking out Big Papi..."
Capps was then the pitcher of record when the NL got back-to-back one-out hits off the Yankees' Phil Hughes and a walk from the White Sox' Matt Thornton to load the bases for the Braves' backstop. McCann's two-run double put the NL ahead and when they held on for the win, Washington Nationals' closer Matt Capps got the W! Capps gets the Curly-W as the National League ends over a decade of dominance by the AL in the ASG. "'As a kid, I always dreamed of playing in the big leagues,'" Capps told MLB.com's Bill Ladson in an article on the All-Star game entitled, "Elated Capps gets win in All-Star debut", but, he continued, "Playing in the All-Star Game is something I never really thought about." Within a month, Capps would be dealt to Minnesota, with whom he'd make his first post season appearance less than a year after the Pirates non-tendered the right-hander who'd been the Nationals' seventh All-Star.