After yesterday's unfortunate elbow injury to Chase Whitley, his spot in the rotation will be taken by Chris Capuano. I felt like Whitley would keep his spot and Adam Warren would be moved to the bullpen to help a struggling middle relief corps. Warren made that decision difficult after a very good outing on Wednesday, but now the Whitley injury made the decision easy. Although, I really don't know why Capuano was guaranteed a spot over either of them to begin with.
Capuano did a decent job for the Yankees when they brought him in from Boston last season when they were desperate for starting pitching after an avalanche of injures. He went 2-3 with a 4.25 ERA and a 3.85 FIP. Capuano was mostly a six-inning pitcher, as he never completed a full seven innings in his 12 starts for the Yankees. Unfortunately, the Yankees seem to have too many of those kind of guys right now.
Capuano is the kind of guy who worries you anytime he takes the mound because his stuff is never going to blow anybody away. His average fastball was 89.3 MPH last year, which was actually a career high. Velocity of course isn't everything, but the more balls that get put in play against you, the more chance they have of finding holes for hits. Capuano's K/9 rate last season was 7.77. Also, his line drive rate was a career high 26.1 percent.
Capuano threw his fastball 44 percent of the time, his slider 20.6 percent, curve 7.9 percent and changeup 27.5 percent, so he mixed his pitches well last year. That is something he needs to do to survive. What he also needs to do is have better control than he did last season. His walk rate of 3.14 BB/9 is way too high for a pitcher who needs to rely on control and command to get outs. Free passes cannot happen.
The other problem for Capuano is that he's a flyball pitcher pitching at Yankee Stadium, which is never a good thing. For his career Capuano has given up 41.1 percent ground balls and 38.9 percent fly balls. This reared its ugly head pitching at Yankee Stadium last season when he gave up five home runs and had a 5.15 ERA in 36 2/3 innings.
The hope should be that Ivan Nova and Masahiro Tanaka return healthy as quickly as possible so that Warren can go back to the bullpen and Capuano can go somewhere else. He's really just a fifth starter at best and not fit for pitching in Yankee Stadium. Capuano managed to be halfway decent last year, but you probably shouldn't bet on being able to count your lucky stars again.