Whether or not I worked out while listening to Richard Marx today is none of your business. But I did.
After losing the better part of three years due to various injuries, McCarthy has reinvented himself -- with help from the expansive foul territory at
Oakland Alamedia County Network Associates McAfee Overstock.com Coliseum (seriously), I'm guessing -- as a control maven.
Opponents are hitting .287 off McCarthy this season, but he has only issued eight walks over 48 2/3 innings. Moreover, he lowered his arm slot, after realizing what the White Sox did four years ago -- his straight overhand delivery was not conducive to getting cut or sink on his fastball.
With more movement on his fastball and the introduction of a cutter, he's getting groundballs nearly half the time, which is a massive improvement. That's helped him severely slash his gopher ball rate -- he used to allow one every five innings while with the White Sox; he's 10 times as good this season.
The good news is that the White Sox are catching him mid-regression. Perusing his game log, he started the season by allowing just 30 baserunners and seven earned runs over his first 30 innings (2.10 ERA), but is leveling out after taking a beating at the hands of the Los Angeles Angels on April 26. (also: Tyler Chatwood befuddles Oakland fans, too). He's even walking multiple batters in a game now!
I always liked McCarthy, who seemed to get a bad rap for preferring to start and hanging out with Brian Anderson. He's married now, so he clearly learned the error of his ways, I guess. It'll be interesting to see how he has reinvented himself.
He'll be facing Philip Humber, which wouldn't be that interesting if Humber weren't the last piece in a six-man rotation. As Mark Gonzales notes, the White Sox entertained the idea of going with a six-man rotation in 2006 to both give McCarthy a full-time spot, and to prevent the previous year's starters from overheating after a strenuous October. Instead, they went with the traditional five-man setup, and McCarthy was a square peg in a round hole ever since.
But there's no use crying over the past in this case. McCarthy had survived with the straight-overhand fastball and curveball with the Sox, and he hadn't suffered any health issues. The changes he's made usually only come after a career-at-a-crossroads moment.
Plus, you know, the Sox got John Danks in return. Even though McCarthy has one more win to his name this season, I think the Sox still came out ahead on that one.