In the offseason, the Los Angeles Dodgers signed former Arizona Diamondbacks and New York Yankees pitcher Brandon McCarthy to a four-year, $48 million deal.
While many people thought that was too much money for a fourth starter whose age is north of 30, McCarthy is proving that age is just a number so far this season, as he is throwing harder than he ever has before. The 31-year-old is averaging 93.6 miles per hour on his fastball (touching 96), compared to 2007 when he averaged 89.4.
According to Pedro Moura of the OC Register, Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal is just as surprised as everyone else is when seeing how hard McCarthy has been throwing:
It’s kind of like he learned how to pitch backwards, almost,” said Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal. “When guys have velocity, they rely on the velocity early in their career. And then, once they lose it, they go back and start working on movement. It’s actually really good for a guy to not throw that hard when he comes up and then all of the sudden start pumping 95 and 96. Whenever he needs movement, he can throw for movement, and whenever he needs velocity, he can reach back and throw hard.”
His high velocity coupled with movement has led to him missing more bats, as through his first three starts his 25 strikeouts ranks second in Major League Baseball, behind only teammate Clayton Kershaw. His 12.5 strikeout per nine innings average is by the far the highest in his career. His next best was 8.2 in 2014, which is when he began to throw harder due to a change in workout regimen.
Grandal said he could not recall ever seeing anyone increase their velocity as much as McCarthy has:
Usually it’s the other way around,” Grandal said. “They come up because they have velocity and not movement. It’s kinda weird that he picked up that many miles throughout the course of his career. At the same time, that could mean a lot of things. That could mean he changed his workout routine. That could mean a lot of things. I guess it works out in his favor.”
One thing McCarthy has realized however, is that it doesn’t matter how hard he throws it, if he leaves it over the middle of the plate hitters will hit it far. The right-hander has given up six home runs so far this season, which is second in all of the MLB. Four of those came in his second start against the Seattle Mariners though.
McCarthy is currently 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA through his first three starts in Los Angeles.
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