Coming off two solid seasons with the Oakland Athletics, Brandon McCarthy scored a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks in December 2011.
The 6-foot-7 veteran was expected to become one of the anchors of the Diamondbacks’ rotation, but that plan never could quite come to fruition.
McCarthy spent time on the disabled list in 2013 with shoulder issues and a seizure, and he finished his first season in Arizona with a 5-11 record and 4.53 ERA in 22 starts.
He came into the final year of his contract with a clean bill of health and looking to redeem himself. Although his control was not an issue — as he walked very few batters — the 31-year-old starter had trouble getting outs consistently with the Diamondbacks this season, and his performance became a microcosm of the team’s lackluster campaign.
McCarthy’s record slipped to 1-10 by June 21, and although he recorded two straight wins after that point, Arizona shipped him to the New York Yankees for another struggling starter, Vidal Nuño, on July 6.
Since arriving in New York, the Glendale, Calif., native is off to a respectable start with a 1-0 record with 15 hits allowed but just two earned runs over 12.2 innings in two starts. He has also struck out 12 in that time and thrown right around 100 pitches in both starts.
“The frustrating part about the beginning part of the season is I felt sharp,” McCarthy told the Associated Press after his first win for the Yankees on Saturday. “I felt like everything was where I wanted it to be. I just wasn’t doing everything I needed to to get the best out of it. So I felt like I’ve thrown better this year than any year in the past; it’s just the results haven’t followed.”
The new Yankee was also enthusiastic about the change of scenery and having the opportunity to play for a playoff-contending club.
“I mean, you’re pitching for the Yankees, and that’s an opportunity no matter what the circumstances are. For me, it’s at a point in my career where I want to be challenged. I really want to be in a pennant race. I wanted to be closer to the playoffs. I wanted to be in a market that is difficult. I wanted that kind of stuff to see if I could push myself to the next level, so it’s a great opportunity in that sense.”
McCarthy also said after his first Yankees win that he grew frustrated with the Diamondbacks coaching staff because they wanted him to throw more outside sinkers rather than using his cutter as often as he’d like.
That last comment was brought to Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson’s attention Monday at a press conference before his team took on the Detroit Tigers. The Arizona skipper had just a couple quick remarks to make about the recently departed McCarthy.
“We busted our (expletive) with Brandon. We did the best we could, but maybe sometimes it isn’t good enough,” Gibson said.
While McCarthy’s chapter in Arizona is finished, Gibson has his own legacy to worry about with the team. Entering the first of three meetings with the Tigers, Gibson was just four wins shy of tying former manager Bob Melvin’s all-time club record of 337 victories.
Although that mark is seemingly right around the corner, the 57-year-old manager said Monday he still has his eye on a bigger achievement, despite his club’s down year.
“All I’m after is winning the World Series. That’s just the way that I party,” he said. “So that’s really what we’re after here, and that’s I look forward to most. And I have the resolve to stick with it, and hopefully people have confidence in me that I am the right guy to try to lead us there.”