Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Though it was largely considered a solid depth move, there were many (myself included) who questioned the move to bring Chris Capuano aboard on a one-year/$2.25MM major league deal. Capuano would likely force promising youngster Brandon Workman to start the season in Triple-A Pawtucket while providing similar or even worse results than Workman. The primary reasoning for this was that Capuano has had very little relief experience before this season and his statistics as a starting pitcher do not look like they would translate well to the bullpen.
However, the fact is that Capuano is a totally different pitcher out of the bullpen. In 209 career Major League starts, Capuano has a 4.31 ERA, 1.341 WHIP, and 7.4 K/9 and, especially in recent years, has had legitimate problems going through the order more than once or twice, leading to the worst innings-per-start ratio of any of Capuano’s full seasons at just 5.05 innings per start.
In relief, however, Capuano has been dominant– especially in recent seasons. In 31 games (50.1 innings pitched), he has a 3.22 ERA and nearly all of his other stats are improved a bit as well; his WHIP is down to 1.232, his 8.0 K/9 ratio is up, and even his K/BB ratio of 2.81 is slightly improved from the 2.69 that he posted as a starter. That success in relief likely stems from the previously-mentioned innings issues, as well as being able to focus more on lefties, who he has dominated in his career; he has held lefties to a .617 OPS, as opposed to an .807 OPS against right-handed hitters.
In his first two games of the season, the Springfield, Mass. native has held true to that and impressed out of the bullpen. Last night, against his former team, Capuano was the first pitcher to come out of the bullpen and tossed two scoreless innings, allowing two hits and striking out four batters, setting the tone for the Red Sox bullpen throughout the night. Though it’s obviously a small sample size, Capuano has been turning heads so far this season and if he can keep up this pace, should prove himself a solid acquisition this season.