The Wingnuts may have some difficult roster decisions to make as their baseball season progresses, but one is beginning to look not so tough.
Left-hander Anthony Capra, who pitched at Wichita State, was sent to the bullpen to start the year in favor of Kristhiam Linares, another lefty with an impressive array of pitches he has been unable to harness.
Capra, as Wichita’s long reliever, has made four appearances and would often pitch when the Wingnuts are losing and when his performance has little bearing on the outcome. He has excelled in that role so far, though. Enough to make manager Kevin Hooper think about moving Capra to the rotation and Linares to the bullpen.
"He’s been doing a good job," Hooper said of Capra. "I tip my hat to him because he’s done a tremendous job when we’ve asked him to come in and throw."
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Capra took over for Linares in the fifth inning of Saturday’s loss to New Jersey and almost pitched well enough to give Wichita time to come back from a 6-3 deficit. Capra allowed one hit — a decisive solo homer — as the Wingnuts lost 7-6.
Capra also struck out seven during his outing, bringing his season total to 11 strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings. Though a small sample size for a pitcher who has posted strong strikeout rates in the past, Capra’s 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings suggest that he’s increasing his velocity during shorter relief outings.
Before last season, when the Oakland Athletics organization moved him to the bullpen in his fifth season with them, Capra had never made a professional relief appearance. He didn’t take to it immediately, posting a 4.99 ERA in 11 appearances, but he seems to have grown more comfortable there this year.
Linares, meanwhile, has pitched nine combined innings in two starts. He’s been hampered by eight walks and the two homers that followed walks during Saturday’s start. Linares has walked four batters per nine innings during his five-year career, and that often keeps him from extending his outing beyond the fifth or sixth inning.
Hooper, though, may continue to bank on the talent that allowed Linares to sign at age 19 out of the Dominican Republic arriving in Wichita.
"We’ll see," Hooper said. "We’ll evaluate and go from there. (Capra) and Linares are pretty much identical, I think. They can both do both things, start and relieve."
Meanwhile, in an effort to trim a payroll that has them significantly over the salary cap, the Wingnuts signed rookie outfielder Cody Bishop, who most recently played in the Pecos League. To make room, the Wingnuts released Derrek Peren, who was batting .368 in seven games.