Continuing our look at potential trade targets at the upcoming deadline, yet another pitcher is mentioned due to the needs of the team. It is easy after Saturday night’s performance to assume that Josh Tomlin could fill a bigger role, but how soon we forget that in his previous three starts, Tomlin had given up 18 runs (13 earned) and 28 hits in just 15 innings. It was a great start, don’t get me wrong, but Tomlin remains an up-and-down, back-end starter, while the Indians continue to wonder if Justin Masterson‘s knee will heal and lead him back to his 2013-form, while Zach McAllister, T.J. House, and Trevor Bauer ride the inconsistent waves of young starters and Corey Kluber remains the only steady starter in the rotation. To contend, the Tribe needs arms, and Brandon McCarthy, like Jason Hammel, would be an intelligent acquisition.
McCarthy has struggled with the Arizona Diamondbacks since landing in the desert last year, but you could say that the whole team, with the exception of the talented Paul Goldschmidt, has found the 2014 season as an uphill battle. After re-inventing himself in Oakland after injuries to a stress fracture to his right shoulder (an injury that has occurred in 2007, 2009, and 2011), McCarthy became a very effective starting pitcher, when healthy, in 2011 and 2012:
In Arizona, however,it has been a completely different story:
But, did McCarthy really decline, or is it just the environment?
The only thing about linking McCarthy’s struggles to the opposition and environment is that only Coors Field is considered a hitter-friendly ballpark, and the other numbers don’t match his numbers in Oakland, as taking away his numbers in Colorado would still leave him with a 4.08 ERA and 1.22 WHIP, which isn’t horrible, but isn’t great, either.
When looking at McCarthy’s approximate $4.45 million remaining on his deal and an FIP of 3.81 versus his 4.78 ERA while in Arizona, there is still something there worth acquiring. With his increased strikeout rate this season, a career-high 7.53 per nine, to go along with the highest groundball rates of his career (2013 was a career best, 48.2 percent, and 2014 stands at 55.6 percent), McCarthy not only still has stuff, but he is adapting and changing as a pitcher at the age of 30. His walk-rate is very good (1.56 per nine) and his BABIP is unlucky (.338), and a change of scenery could be all that he needs to get back on top prior to reaching free agency after the 2014 season.
Sure, injuries could factor in, as they have in his entire career, but Brandon McCarthy is a pitcher, and he is a pitcher who would improve the Indians as they make a push for contention in the second half of the 2014 season. Cleveland has had some luck in dealing with the Arizona and GM Kevin Towers in the past, based on the Bauer deal, and the Diamondbacks have many needs throughout the organization, so Antonetti and company would have a bit more flexibility in the talent leaving that may not have been there in a deal with the Cubs (due to Chicago’s strength of their system and lack of offensive need in the system).
Finally…follow Brandon McCarthy on Twitter. He is, quite possibly, the most active athlete on the social media outlet, and his baseball intelligence and humor are nice traits to follow: @BMcCarthy32