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Monday, 24 February 2014 21:47

2014 Boston Red Sox Player Analysis: Chris Capuano

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Early last week, Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster announced he would not be pitching in the 2014 season, and as a result of this he was placed on the restricted list, freeing up a spot on the 40-man roster. The 25 man-roster seemed to look all set with the Dempster transaction solidifying Brandon Workman's spot on the big league club, but the Red Sox were not done adding players yet. Instead of just giving the spot on the Major League roster to Brandon Workman who pitched 20 games for the club last season, 3 of which were starts, they went out and signed West Springfield native Chris Capuano to a one-year $2.5 million deal. Capuano, 35, spent last season with the Dodgers primarily as a starter, but he also had four relief appearences. Capuano has spent most of his career as a starter, pitching for the Diamondbacks, Brewers, Mets, Dodgers and now Red Sox, but he also has some experience relieving. In total the lefty has relieved 29 career MLB games, showing he can do whatever he is called upon to do. Arguably his best season came in 2011 where in 33 starts he held his ERA down at 3.72 with 162 strikeouts to go along with it. Looking at his career as a whole, his numbers translate to more of a back-end of the rotation starter, but on a weaker team he could definitely be a number two or three starter this year. Chris Capuano is expected to be something of a swingman for the Red Sox, who already had five proven big league starters on their roster, but had six the week before back when Ryan Dempster was still in the picture. For the Red Sox, he is definitely more valuable than Dempster, scheduled to make over $10 million less than what Dempster had coming to him. Their numbers matchup pretty evenly, Capuano's 4.26 ERA in the NL and Dempster's 4.57 ERA in the AL are quite similar when the DH hitting versus the pitcher hitting is factored in. Not to mention Capuano averages 7.5 K's per nine innings, just shy of Dempster's 7.8. Capuano like Dempster, has a reputation as a workhorse starter, and that pitching mentality in the bullpen could come in handy for the Red Sox very much, especially if a starter has a rough outing, and needs a reliever to come in for long relief to save the bullpen for the next day. As a starter he could help out the team very much as well. If he has not pitched in a while, he could give the Red Sox starting pitchers an extra day off every now and then by making a spot start, something that could be put to very good use, especially late in the season as the playoffs come around. For instance, say Lester has 30 starts on the year, the Red Sox have clinched the playoffs, Lester has 200 innings pitched on the year, he could skip one of his last outings, which could be pitched by Chris Capuano to help save Lester's arm. In addition to giving guys extra rest time Capuano could help the team is when there are injuries. If a starting pitcher gets hurt, instead of calling up say Allen Webster for the rotation, Boston has the leverage to slide Capuano into the rotation and call up a reliever, causing the fall of veterans to have less of an impact on the team.  This move has the biggest impact on Brandon Workman, and because of the move, it seems that he is likely to begin the 2014 season in AAA Pawtucket. Despite 8 2/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs to go along with a respectable 4.97 ERA in 20 MLB games, he will have to wait possibly up to another year to earn his spot in the big leagues, something which by the looks of him in the playoffs, it appeared as though he already had. The time in AAA will definitely be beneficial to Workman though, especially because he blazed through AAA, getting in just six starts there and no relief appearences. Throughout the course of the season, Workman could be tried out as a swingman in AAA, much like what Justin Masterson was in his 3 years in Boston. Workman only has one career relief appearence in the Minor Leagues so this will be even more beneficial since he will get to work on relieving even more, and could perhaps even dominate the competition. When Workman does get his time though, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be ready, especially because in my mind he is MLB ready right now. Overall, Capuano was a smart signing for the Red Sox, as he will do a fine job replacing Ryan Dempster, while allowing Brandon Workman to gain some experience in AAA Pawtucket so that he Workman will be a quality swingman by the end of the year. Follow me on Twitter @CLNS_TOM