On Tuesday, the Yankees re-signed left-hander Chris Capuano to a one-year, $5 million contract. He is a 36-year-old journeyman who has previously pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and Boston Red Sox.
Capuano was an All-Star in 2006 with the Brewers when he finished the season with 11 wins, a 4.03 ERA, 174 strikeouts and only 47 walks, but he has mostly been a mediocre pitcher throughout his career. He has been a somewhat reliable back-end of the rotation starter, and has served as a reliever in the 2013, 2013 and 2014 seasons. Capuano has a 76-87 record, a 4.28 ERA, a 1.34 WHIP, 1.134 strikeouts, 426 walks and has allowed 183 homers in 10 seasons.
While pitching for the Mets in 2011, Capuano had a very high 4.55 ERA while making 33 appearances and 31 starts. In 2013, which was the last season that he made most of his appearances as a starter, he had a 4.26 ERA with 81 strikeouts and 24 walks for the Dodgers. Further adding to his mediocrity, this past season, he had a 4.55 ERA in 28 relief appearances for the Red Sox, and after he was designated for assignment, he had a 4.25 ERA in 12 starts (65.2 innings) with the Yankees.
In a surprising decision, General Manager Brian Cashman all but declared that Capuano would have a spot in the rotation to begin the season. “He’s coming in as one of our starters,” Cashman said. This means that as of now their rotation will be Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Capuano. Ivan Nova should be back from Tommy John surgery by June and until then the internal options for the final spot include Adam Warren, David Phelps, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley and Jose De Paula. If in the rotation, Capuano makes the most sense as the number 5 starter.
Cashman is still saying that they don’t have plans to enter the bidding for Max Scherzer because of the money and years attached to him. However, this could still change come the end of January as that was when they signed Tanaka last year.
Many of the number 3 starters or better have already been traded for or signed by teams, so it is looking like Cashman will either come out of left field with an offer for Scherzer that he can’t refuse, or be content to go into spring training with the starters currently on the roster. It will not be a successful offseason if Cashman doesn’t add another starter.
Capuano is a pitcher who can be relied upon to be a workhorse that offers depth and versatility. His main attribute is that he eats up innings as he has thrown more than 186 innings four times in his career. He pitched six innings or more in eight of his 12 starts with the Yankees. However, proving his inconsistency is that he allowed four earned runs during two out of his three starts where he had more than five strikeouts.
They are not making much of an investment in him as it is only a one-year contract, but it did come as a surprise that Cashman already said that he is one of the starters in the rotation. However, this could change in spring training if a pitcher like Manny Banuelos or Mitchell really emerges.
Capuano, who was drafted in the 8th round of the 1999 draft, is a finesse pitcher who relies on his unorthodox delivery. He throws his fastball in the mid to upper 80s. The crafty lefty features a changeup and a slider, and his excellent pickoff move helped him lead the major leagues in that category with 12 in 2005.