The 36-year-old journeyman Chris Capuano is slated to start the season as the No. 5 starter after being brought back on a one-year, $5 million contract. He pitched last season as a relief pitcher with the Boston Red Sox and as a starter for the Yankees.
After recording a 4.55 ERA in 28 appearances out of the bullpen the Red Sox, he was designated for assignment, and then was acquired by the Colorado Rockies. He made four starts in their minor league system and then was traded to the Yankees for cash on June 24. In his 12 starts for the Yankees, had had an ERA of 4.25 in 12 starts.
He will be pitching in his eleventh season after previously pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Red Sox. In his 10 seasons, the crafty lefty has a 76-87 record, 4.28 ERA, 221 starts, 1,265 innings pitched, 1,134 strikeouts and 426 walks. He was an All-Star in his fourth season (2006) while pitching for the Brewers. He finished that season with 11 wins, 34 starts, a 4.03 ERA, 221 innings and 174 strikeouts.
He had career-highs of 18 wins, 176 strikeouts and 35 starts in the 2005 season when he was 26. His last full season as a starter was in 2012 for the Dodgers when he had a career-low 3.72 ERA, 12 wins, 198.1 innings pitched, 162 strikeouts, 54 walks and a 1.20 WHIP. Capuano is not nearly a top of the rotation starter, but he is durable and keeps hitters off balance.
With the Yankees, he was able to pitch six innings or more in eight of his 12 starts, which is what you want out of a No. 5 starter. He also allowed three runs or less in six of his 12 starts while not allowing an earned run in three of those starts. Capuano has never relied on an overpowering fastball to get outs like many pitchers, but he is able to be deceptive while throwing his sinker (90mph), change (79mph), slider (82 mph) and curve (76 mph) accurately.
Capuano only had two wins for the Yankees in his 12 starts, but he would have picked up more if he had more run support. Another factor besides his sinker, change and slider that helps him get outs is that he has one of the best pickoff moves in baseball. In his second season pitching for the Brewers, he led the major leagues in pickoffs with 12.
It is still possibly that the Yankees acquire another starter to compete with Capuano, but if he can pitch like he did in 2012 and when he was effective last season, he should be able to pitch six or seven innings while allowing three or four runs. Nova could return to the rotation in the end of May or beginning of June, which will likely lead to Capuano going to the bullpen.
He has pitched more than 185 innings four times in his career, which proves that he stays healthy and can be relied on to go deep into games. If Nate Eovaldi comes before him as is projected that would make sense Eovaldi is hard-throwing righty, which would cause hitters to adjust to Capuano.
Project 2015 stats:
Starts – 10
Wins – 4
ERA – 4.15
WHIP – 1.30