Game #58: Diamondbacks vs. Reds

Doug Pensinger

Brandon McCarthy takes the mound for Arizona this evening. Will he be good past the third, or are we going to see another one of these disturbingly-frequent mid-inning meltdowns?

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Johnny Cueto
RHP, 4-4, 1.83
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Brandon McCarthy
RHP, 1-6, 4.87

Diamondbacks Lineup

  1. A.J. Pollock - CF
  2. Gerardo Parra - RF
  3. Paul Goldschmidt - 1B
  4. Miguel Montero - C
  5. Martin Prado - 3B
  6. Aaron Hill - 2B
  7. Cody Ross - LF
  8. Chris Owings - SS
  9. Brandon McCarthy - P

Maybe it's McCarthy who should be in the bullpen, not Trevor Cahill? I mention this, because of McCarthy's astonishing splits this season. For his first 25 pitches, he's basically unhittable - but after that, it goes increasingly pear-shaped. And not one of those crunchy, tasty and fresh pears either: it's more like one which got stuck at the bottom of the box, and is consequently well past its' best before date.

Split PA AB R H HR BB SO SO/W BA OBP SLG OPS
Pitch 1-25 72 70 4 11 2 2 18 9.00 .157 .181 .257 .438
Pitch 26-50 73 68 9 19 3 4 18 4.50 .279 .319 .485 .805
Pitch 51-75 80 73 16 24 4 4 14 3.50 .329 .367 .548 .915
Pitch 76-100 58 56 9 20 2 1 8 8.00 .357 .362 .607 .969

That's pretty much in line with the eye test. We've seen it time and time again this year: McCarthy comes out of the gate looking like an ace, only to melt down horribly after the first few innings. That's why he has posted an ERA of 2.18 through the first three frames, and 7.39 thereafter. Now, some dropoff is to be expected. But across the NL this year, OPS in the first 25 pitches is .700, and it's only 44 points higher from 76-100 - not the 531 points we're seeing from McCarthy. So, while small sample sizes do still apply to these figures, the results are SO extreme, there does seem to be something up.

However, there is hope for improvement, McCarthy's ERA of 4.87 ranks him 91st of 100 qualifying pitchers. But his FIP [Fielding Independent ERA] is a hair below four and ranks 67th. His xFIP - a variant of FIP that uses expected home-run rates - is even better, all the way down at 2.88, the 12th-best in the majors. Of course, xFIP doesn't win games. but it does seem credible that his HR/FB% of 21.2% should come down eventually; last year, it was less than half that, and his career figure is 10,0%. He's also striking out batters at a career-high rate, 7.8 per nine innings, and that augurs well for the future too.

But if it could all start regressing soon - ideally, past the third inning this evening - I think we'd all appreciate it.

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