News came out yesterday that Chris Capuano will replace Manny Parra in the starting rotation, beginning on Saturday. I’m not terribly excited that Parra has been removed from the starting rotation, as I would’ve liked to see what he could do in the last month and a half. That said, the bullpen may be the long term solution to Parra, as I point out (among other things) here.
That said, I’m actually moderately excited to see Capuano’s return to the starting rotation. Capuano has quietly pitched very well between his two starts and 15 bullpen appearances. His strikeout rate is nearing a batter per inning, he’s walking fewer than three per nine, and his home run rate is slightly below average. His FIP and xFIP both sit slightly below his 3.72 ERA, suggesting that Capuano still has, at the least, MLB ability.
His velocity may be inflated from his time in the pen, but his 87.5 MPH average fastball speed is faster than all of Capuano’s seasons with the Brewers except for 2004. Really, almost everything about Capuano’s 2010 season tracks his previous seasons with the Brewers very well, from swinging strike rate (10%) to distribution of pitches (57-18-25 fastball-slider-changeup) to GB/FB rate (1.17).
Honestly, I’m hard pressed to find something about Capuano that’s really that different from the Capuano that we saw in 2006 and 2007. That means we could be looking at a guy that could post a FIP in the 4.00-4.50 range, which would be a huge boon for this team, as long as a deal can be reached to keep Capuano around for the 2011 season. Of course, we can’t ignore Capuano’s extensive injury history, but there’s nothing to lose right now and much to gain. If Capuano can show the ability to consistently retire Major League hitters in 2010, that could make life for Doug Melvin and the Brewers much easier as they plan for 2011.