Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Wildcard: Chris Capuano

It may come as a surprise to many Brewers fans, but Chris Capuano never left the organization. His last start in the major leagues was September 28, 2007 at Miller Park against the San Diego Padres.

So where has he been since then?

Checking the DL would be a good start.

During Spring Training prior to the 2008 season, Capuano suffered an elbow injury. That injury led to Tommy John surgery. It was Capuano's second Tommy John surgery of his career.

Like many fans, I wrote off the possibility of Cappy ever making a return to professional baseball. It's tough enough to come back from one TJS, let alone two.

For two years, it looked like I was unfourtunately right. Capuano finally appeared in a game for the Brewers rookie level affiliate near the end of 2009. Capuano was only able to rack up nine innings in the minors before the end of 2009. Sure it was a start, but it wasn't all that encouraging.

After being invited to Spring Training in 2010, Capuano was again shut down due to arm injury. He rehabed and was sent to the minor leagues to start the season. What Capuano did there completely put him back on the Brewers' radar. His numbers in Brevard County and Nashville this season were impressive.

Brevard County (A)-

3 Games (all starts)
(2-0), 1.23 ERA
14.2 IP
12 Hits
2 Runs (2 ER)
17 Strikeouts
0 Walks

Nashville (AAA)-

4 Games (all starts)
(1-1), 1.80 ERA
25 IP
21 Hits
6 Runs (5 ER)
16 Strikeouts
4 Walks

Those are very good numbers. Even more impressive to me was how deep Capuano was pitching into games at Nashville. He was pulled after four scoreless innings in his last start because he was being called up, so I'll throw that out the window. In three starts in Nashville, Capuano went 21 innings. That's an average of seven innings a start. His pitch count in those starts have been even more impressive.

May 13th- 8.0 Innings, 84 pitches
May 18th- 6.1 Innings, 84 pitches
May 23rd- 6.2 Innings, 98 pitches
May 28th- 4.0 Innings, 59 pitches (Pulled for callup)

That means Capuano threw an average of just 13 pitches per inning in Nashville. To put that in perspective, the Brewers have not been able to keep their pitches that low. Entering today, Brewers' hurlers have average 18.08 pitches an inning. That's good for last place in the majors. The Minnesota Twins have thrown the least amount of pitches with 15.31 an inning. He should provide a nice option to help limit the burden that is being put on the bullpen.

Eating innings is one thing, but Capuano should also provide quality innings. His 39:4 K:BB ratio is very impressive through seven minor league starts this season. If he is able to keep up anywhere near that place in Milwaukee, he will be a welcomed newcomer. I'm really hoping he can provide the Brewers something they weren't really banking on. Comeback player of the year could be on the horizon for Cappy in 2010.

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