For those of you that may not remember, Chris Capuano was with the Brewers in the mid-2000's. He was around for quite a while too. He debuted with the Crew in 2004 and played his last game with them in 2010. Unfortunately he wasn't active that whole time. He suffered a number of injuries that limited his playing time in Milwaukee and ultimately he left via free agency. But now he's back! And that's kind of cool, even if he's a long shot to break camp with the team.
I remember thinking at one time that Capuano was on the verge of a real breakout. He had a couple of nice seasons with the Brewers pitching over two hundred innings in 2005 and 2006. The ERA wasn't great in those years--3.99 and 4.04 respectively--but he was worth a total of 6.2 fWAR. Home runs had been the problem and I remember thinking he was getting better at limiting them.
He actually was too, now that I look back at the stats. In his first season with the Brewers he allowed a 1.83 HR/9--but this was in only 88 innings across 17 starts. That first full season he allowed 1.27 HR/9. And the following season he cut it down a bit to 1.18 HR/9. I thought for sure he was improving and would continue to improve. Unfortunately that would not be the case.
In 2007 he started struggling with injuries. He went on the disabled list twice and only pitched 150 innings. And then things got really bad. At the end of the season Capuano had shoulder surgery. Things like Tommy John surgery have a pretty good success rate these days. But shoulders are much harder to fix. So that would have been bad enough. But in May of 2008, he had to have TJ surgery. It was the second time in his career.
These days pitchers have a good chance of returning from elbow ligament surgery. Not a guarantee, but a good chance. But that success rate drops significantly when we're talking about the second TJ surgery. So here was Chris Capuano, seven months removed from shoulder surgery having his second Tommy John procedure. It seemed very realistic he might never pitch again.
But he did. And he even pitched for the Brewers again, returning in 2010 after missing two seasons. I was excited and happy for him. He appeared in 24 games, 9 of which were starts, and only pitched in 66 innings with a 3.94 ERA. But it was pretty cool nonetheless. That wasn't the end for him though.
He's pitched at the major league level every season since then. First with the Mets. He made 31 starts for them in 2011. Then he spent two years with the Dodgers--the first of which was his best since returning from injury: 198.1 IP, 3.72 ERA, 3.95 FIP, 2.7 fWAR. The next two seasons he played for the Red Sox and Yankees. And now he's back with the Milwaukee on a minor league deal.
It would be great to see him in a Brewers uni one last time--he's 37 and nearing the twilight of his career. Unfortunately it's hard to find a place for him on the roster. He's said he wants to compete for a rotation spot. But it seems unlikely he beats out Jimmy Nelson, Wily Peralta, Taylor Jungmann, Chase Anderson, or Matt Garza. And he's also not on what is currently a full 40-man roster.
Maybe if Capuano sticks around with the AAA team he'll find himself called up after what could be a myriad of mid-season trades. But I'm reminded of Dontrelle Willis last year. He signed a minor league deal with the Brewers and came to spring training. But before camp ended he announced his retirement. I wonder if that's a decision Capuano now considers as well. Regardless of what happens, I still think it's neat that Chris Capuano is with the Brewers again. He was a personal favorite of mine years ago so I wish him the best.
Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs