Should the Brewers trade for Chris Capuano?


The Milwaukee Brewers’ search for a veteran arm could very well come to a close if they trade for ex-Brewer Chris Capuano. The Los Angeles Dodgers currently have more starting pitching than they know what to do with, and Capuano is a guy who despite his decent 2012, is on the outside looking in for a job.

Perhaps Milwaukee will be open to bringing the 34-year-old lefty back.

Chris Capuano could help this rotation possibly delve into the season with two lefties. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Capuano hasn’t exactly been the poster child for the term “consistency”, but his years spent in Miller Park were good. A career 4.28 ERA pitcher, Capuano has been able to capitalize his success and he probably had his best year last season since 2005. Okay look, he’s not going to blow hitters away with his stuff, but the fact that he has more success than Chris Narveson and has been playing longer than him, shows us a seasoned veteran that the Brewers wanted so badly.

However, that doesn’t mean the Brewers should toss Narveson aside; a dual lefty threat in the Brewers’ rotation could be deadly. Looking at Capuano’s 2012, he went 12-12 (33 games started) with a 3.72 ERA, a WHIP of 1.22, struck out 162 batters and only walked 54 all inside of 198.1 innings pitched. The fact that Capauano could easily top 200 innings makes him a great addition to a rotation shrouded in mystery.

We can go ahead and speculate how well or poor Marco Estrada, Mike Fiers and Wily Peralta will do, but the fact is, we won’t know until they start again. For guys like Yovani Gallardo and Narveson, it’s easier to figure out how they might do. With the addition of a veteran like Capuano, this takes away some of that uncertainty and clearly puts someone out of a spot.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Capuano’s 2012 was that his opponent’s batting average of .247 was the lowest in his career, excluding his 2003 where he only pitched in nine games for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He’s not exactly getting stronger, a 99 ERA- and a FIP- of 106 in 2012, but he’s certainly far from awful.

Capuano ran into some trouble in 2012 with right-handed batters who had a .260/.310/.437 slash line against him, but he was able to limit the damage against left-handed batters. In fact, 22 of the 25 home runs given up in 2012 came off of right-handers, so clearly he has an edge against left-handers.

Capuano pitched five years in Milwaukee. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Pitch wise, Capuano had a small rise with his fastball (55.1% to 57.2%) and cutter (3.1% to 4.2%), but the usage of his slider rapidly dropped (14.1% in 2011 to 3.6% in 2012). He also started to use his curveball more (8.5%) as he hadn’t been scouted using the pitch since at least 2006. The usage of his change-up dropped a little, but not too significantly. Perhaps these adjustments helped Capauno not only lower his ERA from 2011’s 4.55 to 2012’s 3.72, but helped his command against batters in general.

Projectionist Bill James has Capuano pegged as a 10-11 pitcher in 2013 with a 3.90 ERA all in 32 games started. That’s pretty realistic for the lefty and while they aren’t certainly Clayton Kershaw stats, the Brewers would benefit from his presence.

Now there’s the issue of the trade. Who do the Brewers give up in return for Capuano? Well, obviously some of our top prospects aren’t going to see a change of scenery, so no worries there. I couldn’t imagine that general manager Doug Melvin would risk giving up anyone who has an immediate future in the majors for a pitcher who despite his tenure in Milwaukee, probably only has two more solid years left. It certainly isn’t a bad idea to trade for Capuano as it wouldn’t cost us a draft pick like with Kyle Lohse, and the trade could possibly benefit the Brew Crew.

Stats courtesy of FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference.