As one of the most sharp and social players on Twitter, not to mention one of the more progressive thinkers among big-league players, Brandon McCarthy has built a following among many baseball fans that transcends the hallowed bonds of team allegiances.
McCarthy, whom the Dodgers have officially signed to a four-year contract, already has more followers on Twitter than all but two of his new teammates — meaning that his own personal attempt to transform himself into a Dodger uniform online (left) met with an enthusiastic response, praiseworthy or not.
That’s not to say there’s no local angle in his arrival in Los Angeles. Though he went to school in Colorado, he’s a native of nearby Glendale. As Eric Stephen of True Blue L.A. notes, McCarthy properly worships Vin Scully, and you don’t get off on a better foot in this town than that.
But McCarthy’s popularity in greater Los Angeles will ultimately be determined on the field, and there, the 31-year-old right-handed starting pitcher offers promise.
His transformation from a 5.01 ERA for Arizona in 2014 before his July 6 trade to the Yankees, for whom he had a 2.89 ERA and 8.2 strikeouts per nine innings, has been credited largely to reemphasizing his cutter, as John Harper noted in this New York Daily News story. But McCarthy was also ripe for better luck: His fielding-independent ERA with the Diamondbacks was 3.82, more than a full run below his actual ERA.
Another story with the 6-foot-7 McCarthy was that he reached a career-high 200 innings (on the nose) in 2014. McCarthy’s previous high was 170 2/3 innings with Oakland in 2011, when he had his best overall year: 3.32 ERA (2.86 FIP, 121 ERA+). But as Mike Petriello captured at Dodgers Digest, McCarthy has made strides on his physical training. We can hope that those strides are marathon-worthy.
McCarthy’s skill set also plays into the Dodgers’ increasing emphasis on infield defense heading into 2015. This past season, he ranked 14th in ground-ball percentage among qualified MLB pitchers, just ahead of a familiar name (click to enlarge).
He should be fun to have around, on and off the field. Welcome to Los Angeles, Brandon.