Let's start with looking at Brandon McCarthy's performance since his debut in May 2005:
|162 Game Avg.||10||11||4.02||27||177||175||86||79||21||52||121||109||1.284||2.6||6.1|
He did spend most of the first season in the minors, making nineteen starts there, so we should likely exclude that year from consideration. Since then, he has 89 starts over seven campaigns, which averages out at 13 per season. The actual number ranges from 25 in 2011, all the way down to zero in 2010, when he missed the entire year, due to a stress fracture in his shoulder that limited him to 56.1 innings, all in the minors. But since then, by some measures, he has been among the elite pitchers in baseball - in terms of quality of innings pitched, if not necessarily the quantity.
Over the past two seasons, his fielding-independent ERA (FIP), generally regarded as a good predictor of future production, has McCarthy ranked 15th of the 139 pitchers with 200+ innings in that time. However, there are 83 players who have thrown more innings, and that's largely the reason why McCarthy was available for a relative song on the free-agent market for Arizona this winter, though there were reportedly as many as seven other teams interested. Given the way last season ended, there was some suggestion a one-year deal might be the way to go, for both sides, but in the end, Arizona locked him up for two.
So what has been the problem? Here's a table, largely based on data extracted from Baseball Prospectus, showing all the boo-boos for McCarthy since the start of the 2007 season, literally down to a torn fingernail in spring training.
|Date On||Date Off||Trans||Days||Side||Body Part||Injury||Detail|
|May 26, 2007||Jun 9, 2007||DTD||14||Right||Fingers||Blisters||Middle Finger|
|Jun 10, 2007||Jul 2, 2007||15-DL||22||Right||Fingers||Blisters||Middle Finger|
|Aug 11, 2007||Sep 11, 2007||15-DL||31||Right||Shoulder||Stress Fracture||Scapula|
|Sep 21, 2007||Oct 1, 2007||DTD||10||Right||Forearm||Tightness|
|Feb 26, 2008||Mar 7, 2008||Camp||10||Right||Elbow||Soreness|
|Mar 3, 2008||Mar 30, 2008||Camp||27||Right||Forearm||Tightness|
|Mar 30, 2008||Aug 23, 2008||60-DL||146||Right||Forearm||Inflammation|
|Sep 16, 2008||Sep 29, 2008||DTD||13||Right||Fingers||Flexor Tendor Strain||Middle Finger|
|Mar 1, 2009||Mar 12, 2009||Camp||11||Right||Shoulder||Soreness|
|Jun 5, 2009||Sep 1, 2009||60-DL||88||Right||Shoulder||Stress Fracture||Scapula|
|Apr 26, 2010||Jun 3, 2010||Minors||38||Right||Shoulder||Stress Fracture||Scapula|
|Jun 11, 2010||Jun 19, 2010||Minors||8||Right||Shoulder||Inflammation|
|Jun 20, 2010||Jul 29, 2010||Minors||39||Right||Shoulder||Stress Fracture||Scapula|
|Jul 29, 2010||Nov 1, 2010||60-DL||95||Right||Shoulder||Stress Fracture Recovery
|May 19, 2011||Jul 3, 2011||15-DL||45||Right||Shoulder||Stress Fracture||Scapula|
|Aug 12, 2011||Aug 12, 2011||DTD||0||Right||Knee||Contusion||Batted Ball|
|Mar 21, 2012||Mar 28, 2012||Camp||7||Left||Fingers||Laceration||Torn Fingernail|
|May 3, 2012||May 12, 2012||DTD||9||Right||Shoulder||Soreness|
|May 18, 2012||Jun 2, 2012||15-DL||15||Right||Shoulder||Strain|
|Jun 8, 2012||Jun 19, 2012||DTD||11||Right||Shoulder||Soreness|
|Jun 20, 2012||Aug 10, 2012||15-DL||51||Right||Shoulder||Strain|
|Sep 6, 2012||Oct 12, 2012||DtdDL||36||Head||Surgery||Skull Fracture|
It's that pesky right shoulder which has largely been the cause of all those problems over the year, and it seems likely to be that - hopefully be an absence of issues - which will define his time with the Diamondbacks. He told Nick Piecoro in February, "I’ve had, in four or five of the past six years, a scapula stress fracture, which doesn’t happen. I’ve got almost all of them in baseball history. It’s just become my injury." Whatever happens, it's likely we'll know soon. Piecoro points out that in each of the past four seasons, McCarthy has come down with the injury between April 26 and June 20.
Here's to him making it to June 21 intact. But how many starts do you think he'll make for us?