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Analysis: Chris Capuano’s Role with Red Sox

Chris_Capuano

The Boston Red Sox and left-handed pitcher, Chris Capuano agreed to a one-year contract worth $2.5 million plus incentives on February 22nd. He threw for the Los Angeles Dodgers last year and has been in the league since 2003 The Boston Red Sox hope to have him fill the vacancy left by Ryan Dempster. Dempster decided to step down last week, and has been added to the restricted list for the 2014 season.

This decision makes some sense, but the statistics are reason for mild concern. Last year Capuano held down a solid 4.26 ERA and 1.41 WHIP. A closer look at his statistics reveals a pitcher that performs well one year and poorly the next. In 2012, he took the mound far more times; his earned runs for the season were 3.72 and a 1.22 WHIP. What causes these fluctuations? Has he been injured (yes, he has had Tommy John surgery twice), or is it performance-based? The questions mount and few answers seem available.

In Capuano’s 2014 post-season debut he pitched three innings of relief for the Dodgers in game 3 against the Atlanta Braves earning a win. Of his 20 regular season starts, he won four games, and lost seven. This leaves many no decisions and wins earned by relievers. The Red Sox have a solid bullpen, so if Capuano is our sixth man in the rotation, does that leave the team relying heavily on relievers Junichi Tazawa and a healthier Andrew Miller again? It still remains to be seen.

Fans must not worry too much about Capuano’s statistics. At the end of the day, a one-year contract is worth the investment for a left-hander with major league experience. Jon Lester is our only left-handed starter, and one of five other southpaws in the bullpen. The front office seems more concerned that the new additions to the 2014 roster have major league experience. Cherrington, and the others know, what they have in Pawtucket, but based on their decisions they want security at a decent price to add depth while guys like Anthony Ranaudo and Henry Owens get ready for prime time. This is the same path they took with centerfield and the decision to bring Grady Sizemore aboard.

Capuano will get the job done, but I’m not expecting anything spectacular from him given his age and tendency to run hot and cold. Hopefully, he will prove solid as a long reliever with enough stuff to go from the sixth to the eighth inning. This is where I, and other, writers seem to feel he will land. Capuano is genuinely excited about playing for the Red Sox. He grew up in West Springfield, MA and always dreamed of pitching at Fenway Park, something that he has never done in his 11 years in the major leagues.

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