The Brewers bullpen may be their greatest strength, but they currently have just one lefty, Will Smith, who may very well be the team’s closer. Now the team has added two more lefties as organizational depth, Chris Capuano and Cesar Jimenez, both of whom have pitched for the Brewers in the past.
The southpaws received minor league deals with invites to Spring Training, which figures to be stock full of pitchers trying to make the team’s crowded ‘pen.
Capuano pitched for the Brewers organization from 2004-10, spending the 2008 and 2009 in the minor leagues. In his Big League career, the pitcher posted a 4.34 ERA with the Crew over 744 2/3 innings. Since the Brewers last housed him, Capuano’s velocity has actually gotten a tick better, though he has struggled in the last two seasons.
Despite being used mostly as a reliever, Capuano posted a 5.41 ERA with the Yankees and Red Sox from 2014-15. At this point, the journeyman looks like a AAA pitcher, where he has recently dominated his opponents in small samples. Capuano is more optimistic:
I would be stunned if Capuano seriously competed for the starting rotation. The Brewers have a lot of young talent that they need to sift through, and I don’t think Capuano does the team any favors at the Big League level.
Cesar Jimenez has bounced between the Majors and the minors in his career, first appearing in the Bigs as a 21 year old in 2006. Since then, he has averaged just 10 Major League innings per season.
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As a 30 year old, Jimenez had a career year, if a shorted one, posting a 3.13 ERA (3.13 FIP) over 23 innings, while striking out nearly 10 batters per 9 innings. In truth, Jimenez’s season shows the reality of small sample sizes, as his strikeout rate jumped by about 40%.
He also had a 53.4% groundball rate last season, despite that number being around 40% for his career. Essentially he was a pretty extreme flyball pitcher for years and then in 2015 he was a groundball pitcher.
Obviously this makes it hard to trust Jimenez’s numbers, but it’s a perfect situation to bring him in on a minor league deal. That way, if the southpaw succeeds in the beginning of the year, the Brewers could potentially bring him onto the 25-man roster.
Like Capuano, I see Jimenez as a AAA pitcher to start the year, but the Brewers have the ability to move their young pitchers between the Majors and AAA if they should struggle early in the year. If the Brewers have a early vacancy, Jimenez should be one of the first men up.