The Dodgers have signed an abundance of players over the course of the 2012-13 offseason, but have also retained Aaron Harang and Chris Capuano, leaving many fans scratching their heads.
Harang, 34, is coming off of a season where he went 10-10 with a 3.61 ERA, the lowest of his 11-year career.
The 34-year-old Capuano also matched the same achievement, going 12-12 with a 3.72 ERA, the best of his eight-year career.
Both pitchers came in together and have essentially remained so.
They were the Dodgers alternative option after the team lost Hiroki Kuroda to the Yankees.
Harang got $12 million over two seasons, with Capuano getting $10 million for the same time period. All meanwhile Kuroda demanded $10 million for just one season.
We know the story, the duo was well worth the money.
Are they still worth keeping?
In my opinion, yes, they absolutely are worth keeping around a roster of players that could become victim to injury at any given moment.
The Dodgers entered camp Tuesday with a prospective starting rotation of: Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett and Chad Billingsley.
Billingsley is a concern because of his right elbow sprain and partial UCL ligament tear.
It caused him to miss the final 36 games of last season.
Then there’s Beckett’s 5.23 ERA while in Boston last season. Yes, he improved it greatly while in Los Angeles, boasting a 2.93 ERA.
But we’re thinking about the worst-case scenario here!
Let’s say that the Dodgers see one of Billingsley or Beckett struggle, or worse-yet, go down to an injury. It can be any pitcher for that matter.
Would Harang or Capuano strike fans as ideal options to start?
If you said no, then how about Josh Wall? Stephen Fife? Rookie Zach Lee?
It’s simple. The Dodgers have the money to keep both pitchers around as insurance.
Where can they fit on the roster?
Ted Lilly was stoic in stating that he would rather sit in the Dodgers’ minor-league system rather than pitch for another team.
By saying this, Lilly can become an insurance to both Harang and Capuano should they get traded midseason for an upgrade elsewhere.
But until then, the Dodgers have two long-relievers out of the bullpen, which allow for games to become shorter.
With a robust offense like the one the Dodgers present themselves with, you’d expect them to hold sizable leads toward the middle of games and especially at the end.
Enter Harang and Capuano, whose 2012 splits show some wear down as the season progressed.
Harang had a horrific beginning in April, going 1-2 with a 5.72 ERA. He quickly settled down though, combining May and June to go 4-3 with a 2.80 ERA. His season would finish out with a 5-5 record and a 3.55 ERA.
As for Capuano, he was having an all-star caliber season, and probably should have been on the squad.
He got out to an electric 7-1 start with a 2.14 ERA at the end of May. After going 2-2 with a 3.62 ERA in June doubts began about whether he was an all-star. A 3-9 finish with a 4.78 ERA all but confirmed that Capuano’s “snub” was justified.
The Final Verdict
I would keep Harang as the team’s sixth starter, and long-reliever. He will fill where the Dodgers need him to be at the most.
As for Capuano, he has become a popular player in Los Angeles, but perhaps wore himself thin, and would be better suited to remain in the bullpen from here on out.
I can confide in Harang bringing it the whole season, whereas I have my doubts that Capuano couldn’t last past June.
Should the worst-case scenario happen and the Dodgers find themselves losing two pitchers in the rotation after all, I still think that Capuano remains in the bullpen. This is where Lilly would get his shot.
Only when a third pitcher becomes unavailable should there be a need for Capuano to start games again.