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Chris Capuano shines as the surprise of Dodgers' rotation

June 18, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Chris Capuano leads the Dodgers in victories and is tied for the fourth-highest win total in the National League.
Chris Capuano leads the Dodgers in victories and is tied for the fourth-highest… (Christian Petersen / Getty…)

In the latest craziness of the Dodgers’ game on Sunday, almost lost in the runs coming and going on the scoreboard, controversial calls, ejections and late-inning rallies and comebacks, was the wonderful performance of left-hander Chris Capuano.

Capuano struck out 12 – one shy of his career high – and held the White Sox to one run in eight impressive innings.

“It was a lot more fun out there than my last few starts,” Capuano said.

Capuano has struggled some in his three previous starts, unable to pitch past the fifth inning.

But Sunday he returned to the form that should have him in consideration for an All-Star nod. That’s right, the guy the Dodgers signed to be their fifth starter is deserving of All-Star consideration.

He was an All-Star for the Brewers in 2006 but did not appear in the game.

Capuano, 33, was not involved in Sunday’s decision, but his 8-2 mark still leads the Dodgers in victories and is tied for the fourth-highest win total in the National League. His 2.71 ERA is the 12th best in the N.L.

This for a guy who’s had two Tommy John surgeries, and after his second one in 2008, spent all of the next season in the minors.

And who may now be pitching the best baseball of his career, and in an occasional private moment, allows himself to enjoy how far he’s come.

“I try to remind myself to enjoy it out there,” he said. “Just the feel of the ball coming out of your hand, and to appreciate the simple execution of a well thrown pitch. I don’t take it for granted now.”

Capuano has historically been a first-half pitcher. Last year he went 8-8 with a 3.74 ERA in the first half, and 3-4 with a 5.08 ERA in the second half. For his career, he is 45-34 with 3.74 ERA the first half, and 20-32 with a 4.97 ERA in the second.

So nothing is guaranteed, but right now he has proved a more valuable addition to the Dodgers’ rotation than they had any real right to expect. Capuano credits his success to finally being completely healthy and the addition of a curveball to his repertoire.

For now, it’s all working and the Dodgers are winning. And Capuano is left wondering how the Dodgers will figure out a way to pull out victory along with everyone else.

“I’ve been around teams where it was kind of the opposite feeling,” he said. “You get down and kind of stay down. Here, you wonder how you’re going to do it [win] every day.”

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