Chris Capuano makes his fourth start as a Dodger on Monday night in the Dodgers series opener against the Atlanta Braves at Dodger Stadium, the opener of a six-game homestand. Capuano has gone progressively deeper into each of his first three starts as a Dodger, from 4 2/3 innings in San Diego on April 7 to 5 1/3 innings against Pittsburgh at home on April 12.
Last Wednesday in Milwaukee, Capuano was able to complete six innings, though he was pulled after just 82 pitches, and after giving up a run in his final frame, a home run to Aramis Ramirez.
"Up to this point it seems like there has been a wall there in the fifth or sixth inning. I'm not quite sure why," manager Don Mattingly said of Capuano on Monday. "I don't think he's getting fatigued. A couple of times his pitch count has been really low."
Capuano has given up one run this season in the first four innings of his starts, a total of 12 innings to date. In the fifth and sixth innings, Capuano has allowed a total of seven runs in four innings.
"There are times he will lose aggressiveness. That's what I've seen more than anything. He'll start picking," Mattingly said. "You have to pay attention to it right now and try to work through it, and get him to work through it, especially when his pitch count is low."
Capuano averaged 5.97 innings per start for the New York Mets last season, and had a 3.03 ERA in the fifth inning, but an 8.61 ERA in the sixth inning.
Loney And His Swing
James Loney was filming a television commercial before the game on Monday, which included him being filmed while hitting in the cage. Loney has had a penchant for changing his swing on a whim, and Mattingly jokingly cringed at the thought of the production crew around Loney giving him batting advice.
Mattingly said Loney, who has hit .346/.452/.615 in his last nine games, made a change in his swing for his first at-bat Friday in Houston, which resulted in a strikeout. But both Mattingly and hitting coach Dave Hansen spotted the change and nipped it in the bud by showing Loney side-by-side videos of his good swing and his one at-bat change, which Loney quickly scrapped.
"I figured he had a roll of quarters and went to the batting cage in his hometown," Mattingly joked.
- Mattingly said Chad Billingsley came out of Sunday's start healthy and doesn't anticipate that Billingsley's groin will prevent him from his routine nor prevent him from making his next scheduled start, Saturday against Stephen Strasburg and the Washington Nationals. "He didn't come out of [his start] limping or with something bothering him today," Mattingly said.
Freddie Freeman of the Braves won the Player of the Week in the National League on Monday, ending Matt Kemp's three-week reign dating back to last year. But Kemp has bigger goals.
"The other day I was messing around with him about the Player of the Week. He said 'I want to be Player of the Year'," Mattingly said. "That's kind of the mentality you want. We're trying to win something, and he wants to be the best player all year long. I like guys thinking like that.
Game Time: 7:10 p.m.
TV: Prime Ticket