With the Dodgers having won 51 of their last 65 games (.748) since June 22, it’s tough to be overly critical of them. That being said and in spite of having one of the most feared line-ups and most dominating bullpens in all of baseball right now, there is one glaring weakness with the team – the number five spot in their starting rotation; a spot that has been filled by Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Chris Capuano, Aaron Harang, Ted Lilly, Matt Magill and Stephen Fife thus far this season.
With Billingsley and Beckett out until the 2014 season, Harang and Lilly finally gone, and Magill and Fife both back down in Triple-A Albuquerque, Capuano has become the full-time fifth starter since returning from the disabled list on June 19. Since then he is 3-3 with an ERA of 4.73. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Capuano is 0-1 with an ERA of 7.44 in his last four starts and he has failed to go longer than 5 innings in any of them. In other words, Chris Capuano is still the weakest link in the Dodgers rotation and has been all season long – when he wasn’t on the DL, that is.
During Capuano’s DL absences, Stephen Fife has been the most frequently used spot starter. Unfortunately, Fife has also spent two very costly stints on the DL; costly in that they have apparently caused Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti to no longer consider Fife for a permanent spot in the Dodger rotation.
Since returning from his second DL stint for bursitis in his right shoulder, the 26-year-old Fife has made six rehab appearances with the Isotopes (four starts) in which he is 1-3 with a 7.44 ERA – which is identical to Capuano’s ERA in his last four starts with the Dodgers. The big difference of course is that four of Fife’s six appearances have been in hitter-friendly Isotopes Park and it’s 5,300-foot altitude.
Putting Fife’s minor league numbers aside, his stats with the Dodgers this season absolutely blow the doors off of Capuano; in fact, it isn’t even close. In his nine starts with the Dodgers this season Fife is 4-3 with an outstanding 2.47 ERA. He has walked 14 and struck out 40 in 51 innings pitched. Were it not for a complete lack of run support, Fife should be 6-1 (or at least 5-2).
While it’s easy to blame Sunday’s 8-1 loss to the Red Sox on a complete lack of offense by a suddenly ice cold Dodgers line-up, it is safe to say that Capuano was mediocre at best. In fact, had it not been for an absolutely brilliant 5-4-3 double play started by Dodgers third baseman Juan Uribe to end the first inning, the score could have easily been 4-0 (or more) in first inning instead of 1-0.
With the Dodgers leading the NL West by 9.5 games over the Diamondbacks and with Colletti’s reluctance to end the failed Chris Capuano experiment, Chris will most likely make one more start before rosters expand on September 1. And just as it has been for nearly every Capuano start for the past two seasons, Dodger fans will wonder once again which Chris Capuano will show up. Unfortunately, the good Chris Capuano has been missing in action for the past month and there is little reason to believe that he will return anytime soon, thus leaving us with the bad Chris Capuano.