Chris Capuano started the 2007 season 5-0 with a 2.31 ERA. The Brewers won all of his first seven starts. In 39 innings, Capuano struck out 31 and only walked 13 and only allowed two home runs. It was part of an excellent beginning to a season which saw the Brewers jump out to a Central Division lead of as many as eight games.
That division lead wasn’t to last, nor was Capuano’s fast start. The Brewers would finish 2 games behind the Cubs and Capuano would finish the season with a 5-12 record, and a 5.10 ERA and 4.45 FIP. Obviously, this means the Capuano didn’t earn a “win” after his fantastic start, but what happened to Capuano was more than merely going 22 appearances and 18 starts without a win.
In fact, the Brewers lost all 22 games in which Capuano appeared. If we include his only 2010 start, against the Marlins on Thursday, the Brewers have lost in each of Capuano’s last 19 starts and last 23 appearances. The problems with crediting pitchers with wins and losses based on how the whole team performs are copious, but at the same time, Capuano really did not pitch well over this time period. He had a 6.08 ERA in 111 innings. He struck out 101 and allowed 41 walks, which isn’t great but also shouldn’t lead to a historically long loss streak. What killed Capuano was the home run ball – he allowed 18 over this stretch, or 1.46 every nine innings.
Even pitchers with a 6.08 ERA manage to win games, though. Adam Eaton was 10-10 in 2007 despite a 6.29 ERA. Braden Looper won 14 games last season. What doomed Capuano was criminally low run support. The Brewers gave Capuano an average run support of 2.09 runs in those games, scoring over 3 runs only three times and never scoring more than 5. The 2007 Brewers averaged 4.94 runs per game. Capuano’s streak was the result of a perfect storm of pitching poorly and getting no run support.
Let’s take a look at just how ridicluous Capuano’s streak is. In each of his 23 appearances since May 13th, 2007, the he’s thrown at least two innings and the Milwaukee Brewers have lost the game. How many other similar streaks are there, and how to the compare to Capuano’s? Let’s consult the excellent Baseball-Reference Play Index.
Capuano’s streak is by far the longest of its kind and it is still active. Now, Chris Capuano is far from being a great pitcher, but not even the “bad Capuano” of the end of 2007 deserved this kind of bad luck, followed by two Tommy John surgeries.
Right now, Capuano is the odd man out of the rotation. Perhaps he will get a chance to end his streak out of the bullpen, and Macha hasn’t ruled out a start later in the season for Capuano. Either way, I know I’m rooting for him. Regaining his past effectiveness is certainly a long shot, but if he can be productive in any way at the big league level, it will be a huge victory for both the Brewers and Chris Capuano.