A native of West Springfield, Mass., Chris Capuano always wanted the opportunity to play for his hometown team, the Boston Red Sox. Now, eleven years into his MLB career, Capuano finally has the chance to pitch at Fenway Park regularly, and he has impressed many doubters with two outstanding relief appearances against the Baltimore Orioles and Milwaukee Brewers. Initially brought in as a long-reliever and occasional spot-starter, Capuano has proven his worth in order to become one of the more valuable relievers in the Red Sox’ bullpen.
Capuano, 35, is an important factor to the Red Sox’ bullpen due to his many big league experiences. Playing for five teams over the course of his career, Capuano can bring consistent results in the starting rotation or in the bullpen. He is a left-handed pitcher who has the ability to get quick outs and avoid detrimental jams over the course of a game. After having Tommy John surgery in 2007, Capuano has regained some velocity on his fastball (topping out at 90 MPH), but his off-speed offerings make him a formidable reliever that can help the Red Sox in the long term.
Of the 240 big league games that Capuano has pitched in, only 31 have involved him coming out of the bullpen. The only other time Capuano was a regular reliever was when he pitched for the New York Mets in 2010. However, in his career as a reliever, Capuano has gone 1-4 with a 3.22 ERA and 45 strikeouts. He has flustered more batters over the course of his career as a reliever, so it will be critical for Capuano to continue the trend if he wants to continue being a significant reliever in the Red Sox bullpen.
However, in his two appearances during the 2014 season, Capuano has proven his worth as a solid reliever, only allowing two hits over three innings of work. Capuano retired the Orioles in order in the seventh inning on Apr. 2, striking out one batter while only throwing 11 pitches in the inning. Then on Saturday, replacing the struggling Clay Buchholz in the fifth inning, Capuano struck out four batters over two innings of work, preventing any major scoring opportunities for the Brewers. Essentially, Capuano has helped his cause as a long-term reliever for the Red Sox, making him an essential component for the course of the 2014 season.
In effect, Capuano has emerged as the most underrated pitcher on the Red Sox due to his ability to get big outs in key situations. Although he is historically a starting pitcher, Capuano has become a valuable relief pitcher, taking the role that was assigned to Ryan Dempster during the 2013 season. Although it is still early in the season, Capuano has the experience and stamina to last throughout the entire season, becoming an intriguing option for the Red Sox as they look to make a run during the 2014 season.