The state of Brewers pitching in 2010 is not good. Jeff Suppan is a twelve and a half million dollar mop-up man, who doesn't actually know the difference between a mop and a sandwich. Manny Parra continues to prove that it's more likely that people will stop talking about Brett Favre than it is for him to figure it out and become an effective starter. Trevor Hoffman continues to make us hate AC/DC and Randy Wolf has been solid, but completely unspectacular, interesting, intriguing, surprising or interesting. It's not been a fun two months, to say the least.
In search of pitching, Brewers fans have thrown their hopes behind young men with mustaches, freakishly tall men with 7-foot boa constrictors and a guy named Zach with a goatee from New Jersey. However, some people (your author included) are throwing their hopes and dreams behind another. A man who once won 18 games in a season, but also pitched in 22 straight losing games in another season. A former All-Star who hasn't pitched in three seasons and once appeared as a Brewer on The Young and the Restless. A pitcher who is very likely an insufferable douche based on where he went to college (it's Duke, as if I had to clarify) and actually owns a Segway. The pitcher is Chris Capuano and after 32 months away from the major leagues he is poised to start his first game for the Brewers since Amy Winehouse was relevant. To say the least, it's been awhile.
Did you know that Chris Capuano became a Brewer on December 1, 2003 in the Richie Sexson trade? (The same Richie Sexson who was last seen as the Mariners' "power hitting" equivalent to Jeff Suppan. Remember when he charged the mound on a pitch that was over the plate? And threw his helmet? Good times.) That trade was seven years ago. He's the only pitcher from 2004 never to leave, he's won more games in a single season for the Crew than Ben Sheets or CC Sabathia ever did (an admittedly dubious claim to fame) and this is a picture of his wife.
She seems nice.
Chris Capuano returning to the Brewers isn't something we should have been expecting. It's rare for a player to come back from Tommy John surgery a second time. While the first time is said to make you a better pitcher, even increasing your velocity, the second one can have adverse effects. Dr. James Andrews has performed thousands of these surgeries and he doesn't believe your elbow will ever be as good as it was once was. The odds of a comeback for Chris Capuano were slim. Very, very slim.
According to statistics maintained by his office, Andrews performed 1,169 Tommy John surgeries over the 12-year span from 1994 until 2005. Of those, only 12 players were going for their second elbow reconstruction.
For those 12, the success rate — a pitcher making it to his presurgery level of baseball — is about 20%, Andrews estimates.
Then again, Dr. James Andrews lives in Alabama. What does he know? I bet he chews tobacco, dates his cousin and lives in a trailer park. Hey redneck, he's here now!
After posting a 1.80 ERA in four starts at Nashville, Capuano makes his Brewers debut on Thursday when he starts against the Marlins. Should we expect an extension of his (still intact) 22 game losing streak? Should we expect a quality start? A shut out? A perfect game? Or even (gulp) a win? I'm not sure it matters. By taking the mound on Thursday Chris Capuano will do what so few have done before him and something that many of us thought he would never do, he will comeback. He's the Brewers version of the movie, Just Wright, only good and Queen Latifah-less. By taking the ball on Thursday and throwing out that first pitch Chris Capuano will have accomplished something that few ever will and sometimes that's enough.
(Although a win would be nice.)
(No, seriously you guys can start winning anytime now.)
(I mean it.)