Will Chris Capuano Crack the Rotation?

When the New York Mets signed left-handed starting pitcher Chris Capuano to a one-year, $1.5 million deal, it seemed as though he’d slip right into the Mets starving rotation. With options like Dillon Gee, Jenrry Mejia, Oliver Perez, and Pat Misch, who were all formerly thought to compete for rotation spots, the addition of Cap actually put many Mets fans mind’s as ease. However, despite the lefty’s experience and success as a starter, could the oft-injured pitcher actually better suited as a full-time reliever?

Chris Capuano’s career started with the Brewers in 2004, coming over from the Arizona Diamondbacks as a key piece in a blockbuster deal. Despite two back-to-back successful seasons in 2005 and 2006, where he posted a combined 29 Wins, 4.01 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 7.2 K/9 IP, and 2.8 BB/9 IP, the lefty was forced to opt for his second career Tommy John surgery before the 2008 season, knocking him out until mid-2010. While Cap did not pitch the entire length of the 2010 season, he did post a 4.14 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 6.7 K/9 IP, and 2.27 BB/9 IP in 9 starts.

In addition to his 9 starts, Capuano also spent time in the Brewers bullpen in 2010. The lefty posted a 3.54 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, a combined .237/.301/.395 against, 8.9 K/9 IP, 2.65 BB/9 IP, and a 3.33 K/BB in 20.3 IP. Since he originated as a starter, the Brewers put Capuano back in the rotation. Regardless, it’s hard to ignore his stint as a reliever. His righty/lefty splits also suggest that he’s a heck of a lot more dominant against left-handed hitters–posting a .227/.294/.388 against lefties, as opposed to a .272/.323/.457 against righties.

Before one jumps on “Capuano the Reliever” bandwagon, fans should heavily weigh which Capuano the New York Mets need most in 2011–would Capuano be more valuable as a good long-man/semi-dominant lefty-specialist or do the Mets need someone who can give them 150 innings of 4.50 ERA baseball? Assuming the Mets are looking beyond the 2011 season, Capuano’s biggest contribution to the team would be better served as a starting pitching to relieve (ironically) top prospects of premature promotions.

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