Brandon McCarthy

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Brandon Patrick McCarthy

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Brandon McCarthy was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the 17th round of the 2002 amateur draft. He was signed by scouts Joe Butler and John Kazanas and made his pro debut that summer for the AZL White Sox, posting a 2.76 ERA and leading the circuit with 79 strikeouts. The next season, he advanced to the Great Falls White Sox in the Pioneer League, where he won 9 games and again had a league-best 125 strikeouts. He split 2004 between A and AA, going 17-4 overall with a minor league-leading 202 K's.

McCarthy began 2005 with the Charlotte Knights and was promoted to the majors in May, making his first start against the Chicago Cubs on May 22nd. He returned to AAA before rejoining the White Sox in August. Overall, he was 7-7 with a 3.85 ERA and 130 strikeouts for Charlotte and 3-2 with a 4.03 ERA for the Sox. McCarthy began 2006 in the White Sox bullpen while waiting for his opportunity to join the club's rotation.

In December 2006, McCarthy was traded to the Texas Rangers, and he spent the next season in their rotation, going 5-10 with a 4.87 ERA.

McCarthy joined the Oakland Athletics for the 2011 season, going 9-9, 3.32. On September 5, 2012, pitching for the Oakland Athletics, McCarthy was hit by a line drive off the bat of Erick Aybar in the 4th inning of a start against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. While he was able to get up and leave the mound under his own power, the hit had caused a skull fracture and he had to undergo two hours of surgery as he was suffering from an epidural hemorrhage, a potentially life-threatening condition, as well as a brain contusion. The immediate question was whether he would survive the operation and regain full motor function, with the resumption of his career a secondary thought. He gave reassurance though when he quickly resumed his tweeting habit while in recovering in hospital, sending out a number of humorous messages commenting on his situation. Until the injury, he had been having another very solid year from the back of the A's rotation, with a record of 8-6, 3.24.

McCarthy made a remarkably quick recovery from the injury, to the point that on December 12th, the Arizona Diamondbacks were ready to commit to him with a two-year contract worth $15 million. He had successfully passed a battery of tests that indicated that he would be ready to resume his career the following spring. He started the 2013 season in the Diamondbacks' rotation, but it took him a while to find the winning track. He lost his first three decisions before finally beating the Miami Marlins by pitching 8 scoreless innings on May 18th, getting credit for the 1-0 win. He then announced in early June that he had suffered a seizure a week earlier while out dining at a restaurant with his wife Amanda. He was put on anti-seizure medication, and while it was likely that the problem was a sequel from his head injury the previous season, doctors allowed him to resume rehabilitation from shoulder inflammation which had kept him from pitching since May 30th. He was 5-11, 4.53 on the year, making 22 starts and pitching 135 innings.

McCarthy was one of the principal victims of the Diamondbacks' struggles early in the 2014 season, as he went 0-5 in April. That was in spite of setting a personal best mark with 12 strikeouts against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 27th, in a game he lost 2-0. He was at 3-10, 5.01 after 18 starts on July 6th when he was traded to the New York Yankees in return for Vidal Nuno, a couple of days after the Yankees learned that CC Sabathia was likely lost for the season because of a knee injury. His arrival gave the Yankees an immediate shot in the arm, as in his first three starts with the team, he was 2-0, 2.45. He then won his next two starts as well. On August 21st, he pitched a four-hit shutout against the Houston Astros, walking none and striking out 9, to improve to 5-2 since the trade. On September 17th, he pitched an immaculate inning - striking out the side on 9 pitches - in the course of defeating the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-2. he was only the fifth pitcher in Yankees history to accomplish the rare feat. He ended up with an excellent record of 7-5, 2.89 in 14 starts for the Yankees, which gave him a combined mark of 10-15, 4.05. He set personal bests for wins, starts (32), innings (200) and strikeouts (175). His very good second half made him much sought-after when he became a free agent after the season and on December 16th, he signed a four-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers worth $48 million, to be the team's fourth starter behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke and Hyun-Jin Ryu.

With Ryu on the disabled list at the start of the 2015 season, Brandon started the Dodgers' third game of the year and earned his first victory for his new team, 7-4 over the San Diego Padres on April 8th, thanks to three homers by Adrian Gonzalez. He was 3-0 after four starts, although he had not pitched particularly well, as attested by his 5.87 ERA and 9 homers allowed in 23 innings, when he had to leave the game of April 25th in the 6th inning because of pain in his elbow. He thought it was only tendinitis, but it turned out to be a torn ulnar collateral ligament, requiring season-ending Tommy John surgery. It took him over a year to make his return to a big league mound, which came of July 3, 2016. He picked up where he had left off by pitching five scoreless innings in a 4-1 win over the Colorado Rockies. However, he was limited to 10 games, during which he went 2-3, 4.95. He was affected by a case of the "yips", seemingly losing his ability to throw strikes, as he issued 15 walks over a three-game span in August after displaying excellent control throughout his career. He was placed on the disabled list with what was described as a hip injury but was in fact a problem with his control, and as a result he was not available to play in the postseason At the end of the season, he had set a new record with 108 career plate appearances without a single run scored.

McCarthy managed to overcome his control issues before the 2017 season and began the season pitching well as part of the Dodgers' starting rotation. In 19 games, including 16 starts, he was 6-4, 3.98, pitching 92 2/3 innings. Once again, he missed a chunk of the year, but he was helathy when the postseason came around. Initially, he was not on the roster for the first two rounds, but was activated before the World Series match-up with the Houston Astros. He turned out to play a key role, as he made his career postseason debut in Game 2 on October 25th, coming in in the top of the 11th inning in a 5-5 tie as the Dodgers' 9th pitcher of the game. Having been out of action for an extended period, he struggled, allowing a lead-off single to Cameron Maybin, who promptly stole second base, and then coughed up a two-run homer to George Springer. He did manage to retire the next three batters, but the Dodgers got just one of the two runs back in the bottom of the frame and he was tagged with the 7-5 loss in what was his only appearance of the series. After the season, on December 16th, he was traded to the Atlanta Braves along with 1B Adrian Gonzalez, SS Charlie Culberson and P Scott Kazmir in return for OF Matt Kemp. McCarthy made 15 starts for Atlanta in 2018, going 6-3, 4.92, his last appearance coming on June 24th. He was then placed on the DL with right knee tendinitis. he made three appearances with the AAA Gwinnett Stripers at the end of August, pitching a total of four innings, but was not reactivated by the Braves after the minor league season ended. He announced his retirement when he became a free agent after the season.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (2014)
  • Won a World Series with the Chicago White Sox in 2005 (he did not play in the World Series)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Jorge L. Ortiz: "Dodgers' Brandon McCarthy recovers after battle with 'the yips'", USA Today Sports, April 17, 2017. [1]

Related Sites[edit]