That Brandon McCarthy is in the LA Dodgers’ starting rotation to start the 2017 season is something few would have imagined anytime last year. The 33-year-old McCarthy who signed a four-year, $48 Million contract with the Dodgers prior to the 2015 season has made only 13 starts and 14 appearances over his first two years as a member of the Dodgers, due to suffering first a torn elbow ligament and then shoulder problems. In his two LA seasons, McCarthy has gone 5-3 but with an ERA of 5.29. As the Dodgers have purged the majority of the long list of potential starters they signed over the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, starters who were almost without exception miserable failures, whether due to injury or just lack of the ability to pitch at the major league level, somehow
McCarthy remained (salary), and despite a less than overpowering spring (1-2, 5.63 ERA), he is back in the rotation and draws today’s starting assignment.
Being right-handed has to also (salary) be a factor, as the rest of the Dodgers rotation now includes three left-handers with only McCarthy and Kenta Maeda throwing from the right side. In addition, the next guy in waiting who would take the spot of any bottom of the rotation guy who has problems, physical or otherwise, is another lefty, Alex Wood, who looked very impressive yesterday in relief. And, of course, the Dodgers’ number two starter in waiting, 20-year-old phenom Julio Urias, in extended spring training to conserver his innings for the late season and post season and virtually assured of a starting spot in the rotation in a couple of months, is a lefty. Also, don’t forget Scott Kazmir, currently on the disabled list, yet another lefty starter who the Dodgers own big bucks – two more years are left on his three-year, $48 Million deal.
So, despite that salary, it seems that McCarthy has very little leeway, and has to do well to keep his spot in that rotation, and that means coming out of the box doing well today, as he faces off against the Padres, and another starter with a compelling back story, former Angels’ ace Jered Weaver.
The 34-year-old Weaver, the 12th overall pick in the 2004 major league draft, came to the Angels in 2006, and spent the next 11 seasons at the top of their rotation, winning 150 games against only 93 loses. Over the last two seasons, however, his 2000+ lifetime innings pitched began to take a toll on his velocity and clearly he was no longer the same guy who went 20-5 in 2012 or who stuck out 233 batters in 2010. Entering free agency this past winter, the Angels were uninterested in re-signing him, and few other teams had much interest. Weaver ended up signing a near minimum wage $3 Million one year deal with San Diego.
While the Padres likely need Weaver to eat up innings for them, hoping that he can be
more effective than he was last season, McCarthy will be looking over his shoulder on every pitch. Of course, the Padres offense is not comparable to the Dodgers’ and McCarthy, in the rotation’s fourth spot drew a real break as compared to the number five starter, Hyun-Jin Ryu, who coming back from a series of significant injuries, will make only his second start since October, 2014 tomorrow in the hitters’ paradise of Coors’ Field against the deep and powerful Rockies’ lineup.
It may be only the first week of the season, but today is an important game for both McCarthy and Weaver.