CHICAGO -- For somebody who might have been signed to be a rotation round-out, Chris Capuano is pitching a lot better than that for the Dodgers. In his sixth start of the season, Capuano spun his best game yet, rattling off his fourth straight quality start while extending a personal scoreless inning streak to 18 2/3 across three starts.
Understandably, Capuano’s enjoying himself as a result. “It was a lot of fun out there. Me and Matt [catcher Matt Treanor] had a pretty good game plan, and for the most part we were making our pitches. With the wet weather at the start, I was having a little problem sliding around on the mound a little, but I eventually kind of figured it out and was able to make pitches.”
Treanor’s take after watching the other half of the battery mow down the Cubs was similarly enthusiastic. “I love catching him, man, I really do. Obviously, it’s a little bit easier to say after a win, but it’s a lot of fun when a guy goes out there and does that. It’s just putting some fingers down and waiting for him to shake for the one he wanted, and then of everyone watching, I’ve got the best seat in the house.”
His manager was equally generous in his praise, with an eye toward how Capuano’s recent hot streak is making his job easier. Don Mattingly noted, “He’s been solid every time out. He’s been really good, but the last couple of times he’s taken us deeper, which has been huge for us, it takes you to your back end (of the bullpen).”
Mattingly’s regard for his rotation’s third quality southpaw is enhanced by his former responsibilities as the hitting coach. “Cappy, we’ve liked him for a couple of years actually. He’s a tough guy, and he was a tough guy for me when I was doing the hitting to scout, because he has so many weapons, he’s got so many things he does with the ball, he gives you so many different looks, that he’s tough to prepare for,” Mattingly observed.
As a result, bringing him in as a free agent was something that Mattingly was totally down for: “We really liked a guy who knows what he’s doing -- he’s smart, he’s athletic, he’s got a lot of different weapons.”
Reflecting on his first month as a Dodger and his streak, Capuano felt it reflected the benefits of deepening his arsenal this spring. “I added a breaking ball in spring training that I’ve got a pretty good feel for; a cut fastball, work in a good two-seamer. It’s good, having a couple more weapons out there, having some more options to go to.”
In evaluating what Capuano has been doing, Treanor said, “More or less he keeps people mentally off-balance. It’s not like’s sitting there and pumping fastball after fastball or changeup after changeup. He’s mixing pitches, he’s using different pitches in counts where he might be using another pitch. If he’s throwing changeups in certain counts, he’s able to throw his cutter or his fastball to a different part of the plate.”
But the double that Capuano hit to build a 3-0 Dodgers lead in the second inning also made an impression on his manager. “He kind of does everything well. He showed it today with his hitting, he holds runners well; everything he does, for a pitcher, he kind of does well,” Mattingly said.
Capuano was frank about the double being the most memorable thing about the day. “That’s the thing we get most excited about as pitchers. The first thing I did when I got back here was check out the video of the hit. … It was just a first-pitch fastball, and that’s usually how we pitchers get our hits. We try to pick a spot where we can get a fastball and we try to ambush it, and fortunately I got a good pitch to hit there.”
After the game, Mattingly spoke about Ronald Belisario’s return to action in his first game back from his suspension: “He was good, lights out. Beli’s stuff, I’ve said it two, three times, his stuff has never really been in question, he just needs to be consistent.” What if he has that consistency and becomes again the relief asset he was in 2009, when Belisario posted a 2.04 ERA in 69 games as a set-up man? “If you get the guy you had from ’09, you get a guy who’s really back-end bullpen piece we would be able to use earlier in the game because of our back-end bullpen pieces that are already pretty well established,” Mattingly observed.