Brandon McCarthy A Diamond(back) In The Rough For Yankees
I’m just going to come out and admit it: I was wrong about Brandon McCarthy.
Back in July, when I first heard the Yankees acquired the 31-year-old right-hander from the Diamondbacks in exchange for Vidal Nuno, I scoffed. (Don’t tell me you thought it was going to be a meaningful trade.) At the time, McCarthy was 3-10 with an ERA a smidge over 5. Though I wasn’t that sorry to see Nuno go, I didn’t see the logic of the trade. Would McCarthy really put up much better numbers than the pitcher he was replacing? Plus, he had four years on the homegrown Yankee lefty.
It would be the understatement of the century to say that McCarthy has exceeded the expectations of Yankee brass and fans. Since moving to the American League, he has gone 5-2 with an unbelievable 1.90 ERA. He’s also provided the bullpen with respite due to his ability to go deep into games. And on Thursday, he had his best outing yet, a complete game shutout in which he allowed four men to reach base and went to three-ball counts only twice.
Meanwhile, Nuno hasn’t won a game for Arizona yet, but that’s partially due to his team’s lack of offense; he’s 0-3 with a 3.72 ERA since the trade, and the D’backs have lost all eight games he has started. However, you could make a case that McCarthy has shined despite having similar issues with the Yankee offense. In fact, both times he lost the Yankees were shut out.
So how did this bottom-of-the-barrel pitcher morph into an All-Star overnight, in a hitter-friendly American League ballpark, no less?
McCarthy told ESPN New York that he feels he’s been able to mix his cutter and four-seam fastball into his repertoire since coming to the Bronx. He also emphasized the importance of confidence and support from his teammates, and that he takes the mound each outing with the belief that he can win.
Whatever the reason, McCarthy was able to help the Yankees avoid an embarrassing sweep at the hands of an Astros team that came into the series twenty games under .500. The first game included a rare misstep by David Robertson in the form of a three-run home run in the ninth. The second was a microcosm of the entire season: a solid performance by starter Michael Pineda, but next to no offense.
Without McCarthy, it is doubtful we’d even be able to put the words “Yankees” and “wild card” into the same sentence at this point. The irony is, the offseason acquisitions everyone expected to thrive in the Bronx, like Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, have been disappointing.
Apparently, having zero expectations can turn out to be a good thing, as whatever you get is better than you anticipated. It’s certainly worked out for McCarthy and the Yankees to this point.
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