Brandon McCarthy Would Have Been Good Acquisition for Pittsburgh Pirates

By Zach Morrison
Brandon McCarthy Arizona Diamondbacks
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB trade deadline is just three weeks away, and the rumor mill is going to get crazy fairly soon. However, teams have already started wheeling and dealing. In the past week, names like Brandon McCarthy, Joe Thatcher, Jason Hammel and Jeff Samardzija have all changed teams.

The New York Yankees acquired McCarthy today in exchange for left-handed hurler Vidal Nuno. It is certainly hard to believe Nuno is the best Kevin Towers and the Arizona Diamondbacks could get for McCarthy, particularly because the Pittsburgh Pirates reportedly had interest and could have offered more than what the Yankees did.

With McCarthy off the market, the Pirates now have one fewer option to acquire as the deadline nears. Most fans of the Bucs would have criticized the Pirates’ front office for making a move for McCarthy, but those people wouldn’t have seen what the Pirates saw.

McCarthy’s numbers, on the surface, don’t look good. In fact, they look terrible. On the season, the former Diamondbacks pitcher is 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA. One may wonder why on earth the Pirates should have looked to trade for a guy with 10 losses, but let’s be real folks; wins and losses are the lowest statistics on the food chain for pitchers.

Let’s focus on the numbers that actually matter for pitchers these days. McCarthy’s 5.01 ERA certainly isn’t pretty — and it definitely does matter — but there are several reasons to believe his numbers will get significantly better as the season progresses. For example, his 7.63 K/9 is actually a career high for the right-hander. McCarthy has a career 2.32 BB/9, but he has it all the way down to 1.64 in 2014. For a pitcher who throws primarily sinkers, his career 43 ground ball percentage is fairly low, but it is all the way up to 55.3 this year.

While his old-school stats suggest McCarthy is having the worst season of his career to this point, his new-school stats actually show the exact opposite — they say he is having by far the best season he has ever had. McCarthy’s peripheral numbers are almost all career-bests, and his 3.79 FIP and 2.89 xFIP recognize that; they show that he will be an above-average pitcher moving forward.

Zach Morrison is a Pirates writer at You can follow Zach on Twitter @Zach_MorrisonRS and you can add him to your circles on Google+.

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