Chris Capuano picked up his second win as a starter for the 2010 Brewers on Wednesday night, which is approximately two more wins than anybody expected from Capuano coming into the season. His story – coming back from multiple Tommy John surgeries and finally breaking a ridiculous losing streak – is fantastic, of course. Now, however, let’s focus on Capuano’s performance.
In five starts, Capuano has thrown 23.2 innings, allowing 12 runs (all earned), 3 HRs, 24 hits, seven walks, and has struck out 19 batters. That comes out to a 4.58 ERA and a 3.73 FIP. To date, Capuano has been worth three runs above replacement as a starter. Over 160 innings, that would come out to 2.4 wins above replacement. We would certainly expect Capuano’s ERA to come down, too – his overall ERA of 4.09 is probably more indicative of what to expect.
Capuano’s velocity hasn’t suffered from a move to the rotation, either. His fastball is averaging 87.5 MPH, faster than 2005-2007. His slider and changeup are also both moving faster than they were in that timeframe, which may be (and this is pure speculation) due to the Tommy John procedures.
His swinging strike rate is down to 8.7%, but that’s still an above average mark for a starting pitcher. However, he should be able to survive with an average swinging strike rate if he can continue to induce ground balls (44%) and limit his walks (2.66 per nine innings). The lower swinging strike rate suggests that he may not be able to sustain his 8.0 K/9, but again, with the higher amount of grounders and the lower amount of walks, he could still be an above average pitcher.
In a short sample, Chris Capuano has shown that he still has major league quality stuff. Whether or not he could be an above average pitcher, as his line to date suggests, is certainly up for debate. However, given the dearth of pitching options in Milwaukee, Capuano is a valuable asset, and he should be given every opportunity to join the Brewers rotation next season.