Why The Yankees Should Consider Bringing Back Chris Capuano
By Ricky Keeler
On Wednesday, the New York Yankees signed minor league pitcher Jose De Paula to a one-year Major League deal. While this isn’t the move that would ignite the fanbase such as a Max Scherzer, Jon Lester, or James Shields signing, it does show you that General Manager Brian Cashman is looking to keep the pitching depth that helped the Yankees stay afloat in the postseason race last year. Despite all the injuries to their rotation, New York still had a starters’ ERA of 3.77, which was around the middle of the pack in baseball. One of those moves that helped in that cause came here in late July, and could be a player that New York brings back and I’m not talking about Brandon McCarthy.
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The pitcher I am talking about is 36-year-old veteran Chris Capuano. After being with the Boston Red Sox till July 1, the New York Yankees picked up the left-hander in a mid-season trade with the Colorado Rockies for cash. Capuano had made three starts in Triple-A for Colorado before making his debut with the Yankees on July 26.
In 12 starts with the Yankees, the lefty went 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA. One of the things that impressed me about Capuano is that he kept the Yankees in the game for the bulk of his starts. The only game you could make the case where he mightily struggled was when he only pitched 1/3 of an inning against the Tampa Bay Rays back on September 10. He came back against them in his next start on September 15 and gave up two hits over six innings of work.
In those 12 games, Capuano did not allow more than four earned runs in any start and pitched into the fifth inning or later in 11 of those games. That’s what you would look for out of a back end starter. The other surprising note about his numbers were the strikeouts. He doesn’t have great velocity on his fastball, yet he had five games of 5+ strikeouts and had eight K’s in a game twice.
Chris Capuano is also helping his cause in free agency by pitching in the Japan All-Star Series as a member of the MLB stars team. In the team’s exhibition matchup on Tuesday, Capuano threw four scoreless innings, struck out three and walked one batter in the win.
The problem I have with Capuano’s numbers from last season were that the walks had a tendency to be high. He had four walks in three of his starts, including 11 walks in 23 innings during the month of September. Despite those walks, he was able to throw 85+ pitches in 10 of his 12 starts, including 100+ pitches in 1/3 of those outings.
So, while I do think the Yankees should be after a front-line pitcher, the rotation questions in the off-season are a concern that the team needs to address by adding depth at a low price. Plus, Capuano seems to pitch well in New York as he did had a 4.04 FIP with the Mets in 2011 compared to a 3.85 FIP last season with the Yankees. Capuano would be worth a one-year contract where he could be a good fill-in while New York waits for Ivan Nova to come back from Tommy John surgery.