Sunday, March 07, 2010

Two Pitchers to Watch for 2010

There are a lot of intriguing stories for 2010. Will Joba or Hughes start? Will Dice-K come back strong? Can Hudson put it together for the Braves? Can Feldman repeat last year's success for the Rangers? Can Carpenter repeat for the Cards and stay healthy? All of these are great stories and don't even include other interesting ones like Halladay for the Phillies, Lackey for the Red Sox, etc. But two stories have piqued the Fan's interest, probably because both started Spring Training games yesterday. The two? Shaun Marcum and Chris Capuano. Both were promising pitchers who missed 2009.

Let's start with Marcum. The Blue Jays' pitcher was a former #3 draft pick who flew unnoticed (except by Toronto fans) for his first three years. In just about every major category, Marcum had improved over those two years and put up decent numbers. He was an up and coming pitcher who showed a lot of promise.

Marcum went 9-7 in 2008 starts after going 12-6 the year before in the same number of starts. The record again shows how little wins and losses indicate the worth of a pitcher. The 25 starts in 2008 were much better than 2007's starts. Here is a comparison:


ERA: 4.13/3.39
WHIP: 1.246/1.163
K/9: 6.9/7.3
H/9: 8.4/7.5

The trouble was that Marcum's elbow started acting up in the middle of the 2008 season (which might account for an increase of walks). He went on the disabled list in June for what was then termed an elbow strain. But the plug was pulled in September and he had surgery on that right elbow and of course missed all of 2009.

Marcum is on the road back and threw two excellent innings for the Blue Jays yesterday against the Yankees. If the Blue Jays can get even a 2008 type year out of Marcum, it will be similar to making a great trade and getting a good new pitcher.

Chris Capuano has been gone even longer than Marcum. The Brewers' pitcher last pitched in September of 2007. That's a long time to be away from the majors. After two Tommy John surgeries, a non-tender, a release (all with the same team), Capuano and the Brewers have some sort of cosmic connection because he keeps trying to come back and the Brewers keep giving him minor league deals to give it a go.

Capuano, who may be one of the smartest players in the game with an economics degree from Duke (after finishing high school as the valedictorian), was very good in 2005 and 2006 and looked like he was going to be a good pitcher for them for a long time. He then started 2007 at 5-0 and everything looked great. He made 22 more appearances in 2007, most of them as a starter. Milwaukee lost each and every one of those games. That seems like it has to be some sort of record.

Capuano hoped to come back in 2008, but had to shut it down. The same thing happened in 2009. But here he is back in 2010 and he made his first Spring Training start yesterday and had two sharp innings.

The Fan has an open heart for the underdog story and both Shaun Marcum and Chris Capuano are underdogs in that they were once promising until significant arm injuries ended their development. Now they are making the long road back to where they once were. The Fan is rooting that they both make it and have great 2010 seasons.

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