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Surprise: Dodger Chris Capuano deserves to be an All-Star

June 24, 2012|By Steve Dilbeck
  • Chris Capuano is 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA on the season.
Chris Capuano is 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA on the season. (Chris Carlson / Associated…)

And so, once again, we come to sing in praise of left-hander Chris Capuano.

It’s an interesting little ditty. It doesn’t typically come equipped with gaudy statistics, though he has some very good numbers. He is 9-2 with a 2.60 ERA, both figures the best of any regular member of the Dodgers' rotation.

The Dodgers have been winning with pitching – their starting rotation’s ERA (3.22) is the second lowest in baseball – which is why Capuano deserves to be an All-Star.

“The numbers don’t lie, right?” asked Dodgers Manager Don Mattingly. “It’s not like this has been a mirage. He’s been pitching good. He’s been consistent. He should be considered.”

There is some serious competition, and an All-Star nod is far from a lock, but the fact that Capuano has even put himself into consideration says plenty.

This was someone signed to be the team’s fifth starter. Who is coming off two Tommy John surgeries. Who last year went a very nice, if unspectacular, 11-12 with a 4.55 ERA for the Mets.

“I hated scouting him because he gives you a lot of different looks,” Mattingly said. “We felt at the end of last year he was throwing the ball well. We always liked him and felt like this was there, it’s just been kind of a route to get him back to this. I’m not sure we thought it was going to be like this, but it’s a guy we liked in the past.”

Capuano’s current 2.60 ERA is over a run better than his career-low mark of 3.95 set in 2010. At age 33, in most ways he is throwing the best baseball of his eight-year career.

Capuano appreciates that, is grateful for it, yet now views success in a somewhat different light.

“I guess my perspective is just different now,” Capuano said. “I want to do well. I want to get wins. But that isn’t really the end result. So much has changed in my life. I missed two years of baseball, I got married.

“Just the way I look at baseball has changed. I really just enjoy being here every day. I enjoy executing pitches. And that’s where the joy is.”

Success has followed his new approach, one recognized and valued by teammates.

“Cappy’s been amazing the way he’s thrown the ball all season long, from start to finish,” said catcher A.J. Ellis. “It started in spring training. You could tell he had a little more velocity on his fastball, and when he has that, it just makes all his off-speed better. Cappy has the amazing changeup and he added the curveball in spring training, and it gave him another dimension.”

Capuano, who helped snap a Dodgers four-game losing streak Saturday with seven strong innings, allows that he is not the same pitcher who broke in with the Diamondbacks as a 24-year-old in 2003. He is certainly a pitcher with more weapons.

“We all evolve as we go,” he said. “It’s just a natural part of it. I’ve experimented a lot over the last couple of years with grips, a different type of two-seam fastball, a different breaking ball, cutter. Those are all things I didn’t have before. I was fastball, slider, changeup.

“Now, I kind of have a couple different fastballs, a little more of a slow breaking ball, also a cutter. So there are some differences.”

All helping him make an unexpected difference for the Dodgers.

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