Tonight, you got a look at just how dominant Brandon McCarthy could be. All the elements were there: precise location of his fastball, which ranged from 88-94 MPH; great mixing in of a changeup that just floats in there, coming at the hitter with the exact same motion as his fastball; and, best of all, a pretty good breaking ball, which McCarthy finally had a good feel for.
In the end, McCarthy finished the game with eight strikeouts. He gave up just one run over five-and-one-third innings, and that run came in his last inning of work, as he appeared to be tiring a bit.
I've thought all year long that McCarthy just never was going to make it as a bullpen pitcher. For whatever reason, he never had his good curveball working, and quite often, his changeup wasn't there, either. More often than not, McCarthy was a one-pitch pitcher.
If you don't believe me that there's a clear difference between Bullpen Brandon and starter B-Mac, I suggest you find a copy of tonight's game and watch it. The McCarthy we saw tonight was eerily similar to the McCarthy we saw in September of 2005.
Charlie Haeger has now thrown 16 innings this year for the Sox and owns a 3.52 ERA, after one-and-two-thirds scoreless innings tonight.
I know how valuable a good knuckleballer can be. They can take a lot of stress off of the bullpen, and can usually give you a lot of league average innings.
But for whatever reason, I just don't trust it with Haeger. He might end up having a fantastic career, but I don't think the Sox are in a position to break in two first-time major league starting pitchers next season, especially one so volatile as a knuckler. Which leads to this question: Can he succeed in a bullpen role? I'm interested in seeing what you guys think about Haeger's role to the 2007 White Sox, be it as a trading chip, or as a pitcher (bullpen or starter? Charlotte or Chicago?).