The last two inter-league series the Dodgers had were against the Tampa Bay Rays at the beginning of the month and the most recent debacle that took place against Boston. Both series were being touted as possible World Series match-ups. With the Red Sox and the Rays duking it out in the American League and with the Dodgers just raining hell on every team that comes their way, it’s not far off to say that we won’t be seeing the last of the American League East. It’s fitting that the last two inter-league series the Dodgers would play in would begin and end with Chris Capuano on the mound.
Within that time, Capuano has started four times and has pitched 19.1 innings, not making it beyond the fifth inning in any of those starts. To make matters worse, Capuano has given up 15 runs in those 19.1 innings pitched. That’s almost one run per inning pitched. For the sake of comparison, every other pitcher on the Dodgers has pitched more than 25 innings in that same time span. Only Nolasco and Ryu were pulled in the fifth, but that was only once over their last four starts. In Kershaw's last four starts, he has pitched 30 innings and has given up two runs. Greinke has pitched 27.3 innings and has given up only three runs. Nolasco has pitched 25.1 innings and has given up seven runs. Ryu has pitched 26.1 innings and has given up nine runs. Although Ryu has given up a concerning number of runs, he’s been staying late in the game, giving the bullpen much needed rest.
Normally, I’d come to Capuano’s defense, but his last four starts are simply inexcusable. Looking at his pitching data, the only spot where I can say there is a difference is his increased use in his slider.
In 2012, he was using his slider about 10% of the time, this season he’s using it roughly 12% of the time. The increased use could be because he picked up an extra 5 mph on the velocity. Meanwhile, he has decided to use a curveball instead of his cutter. Interestingly, as he has headed into his age 35 season, the velocity on his "fastball" pitches have not dropped.
His whiffs per swing, according to BrooksBaseball.net, on both his sinker and slider have been consistent with last season. It may just be that hitters have figured him out, it’s a bad season for Capuano, or last season was a fluke. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Capuano’s contract ends this season. He has a mutual option for 2014 that would be for $8 million. But that just seems like it would be a waste, especially since he would most likely be relegated to a bullpen role if he were to stay with the Dodgers for an extra season. 2014 will most likely bring a healthy Fife and, hopefully, Billingsley. With the addition of Wilson, and the already bloated contract of a terrible Brandon League, the thought of paying $8 million to a relief pitcher that doesn't add any extra value to a loaded bullpen is horrifying.
Speaking of League, he’s been almost as bad as Capuano. Since August 2nd, League has pitched 5.7 innings and has given up seven runs. His velocity has remained the same on his sinker and slider, and with the exception of using a four-seam fastball and a change (both accounting for a total of 1.12% of his pitches thrown) not much has changed from last season. Again, like Capuano, it could be that hitters have figured League out, this is a bad season (among other bad seasons), or the end of last season was a fluke. Unfortunately for the Dodgers, they’re stuck with him and his disgusting contract for two more years. A few weeks ago, League was placed on waivers and no one wanted him. If the Dodgers wish to get rid of him, they would have to be willing to eat a significant portion of his contract in order to do so.
And since we’re discussing contracts, if the Dodgers and Capuano part ways, and the Dodgers find a sap of a team to pick up League and part of his salary, the Dodgers would be able to offer Kershaw his inevitable, record-setting contract. Sources have mentioned that his contract will hover around $200 million.
If he wins the Cy Young He'll more than likely win the Cy Young and is a heavy favorite to win the NL MVP. If he’s able to clinch both, the Dodgers will have a hard time trying to explain why they shouldn’t be paying the man what he will soon be owed.