Perhaps no player experienced a bigger change in fortune recently than Brandon McCarthy. Stuck eating inning on a terrible Diamondbacks team, McCarthy will now attempt to push the Yankees into the playoffs over the second-half of the season. On the surface, it doesn't seem all that rosy. But savvy Fantasy owners know that ERA isn't always the safest way to measure a pitcher. Given the recent trade, and the optimism of the advanced metrics, is McCarthy ready to bust out?
Before we get to the answer, it's probably wise to discuss why the advanced stats believe McCarthy has been a much better pitcher this season. Prior to the trade, Chris Towers profiled McCarthy for the Fantasy Baseball Today blog. Here's what Towers had to say:
McCarthy is inducing a ton of groundballs thanks to that hard sinker, but one in five of his flyballs has still left the yard. Coupled with a .338 BABIP that stands as the fourth-highest for any qualified pitcher, it is easy to see where his problems are coming from. However, McCarthy's line-drive percentage is nearly identical to his career mark, indicating his BABIP could be in line for regression.
Additionally, 46.7 percent of his 15 home runs allowed have cleared the fence by just 10 vertical feet; compared to just 31.99 percent for the league as a whole. McCarthy even had one home run pop out of his center fielder's glove early in the season. That is the type of play that scream's "unlucky."
Overall, McCarthy has a 3.80 FIP and a 2.89 xFIP. By both measures, he should be much better than he has performed thus far. Towers also mentioned McCarthy's jump in velocity and swinging strike rate, which should also lead to more success.
In that sense, he's still a big candidate to improve. The trade to New York has helped Fantasy owners take notice, as McCarthy's ownership rates have nearly doubled over the past week. He's now up to 26 percent ownership across CBSSports.com leagues.
Unfortunately for McCarthy, things aren't going to get easier pitching in Yankees Stadium. If McCarthy's former home, Chase Field, was considered a hitter's park, Yankees Stadium is a hitter's haven. To add insult to injury, the one part of the game where McCarthy has shown major struggles this season is the area where Yankees Stadium should hurt most.
The new park allows home runs at a ridiculous rate. According to StatCorner.com, Yankees Stadium has a 140 home run park factor for left-handed hitters, and a 125 home run park factor for righties. A neutral park would have a value of 100, giving you an idea of just how much power is inflated in New York. Both of those figures are higher than what McCarthy faced while pitching at Chase.
He also loses the benefit of pitching in the National League. Offense is slightly up in the American League, which is likely due to them not having the pitcher bat. As a league, the NL has hit .248/.312/.384 this year (per FanGraphs.com). The AL has hit a slightly better, .254/.319/.396. Taking a pitcher's bat out of the lineup and replacing it with David Ortiz's bat does matter, and it's now an issue McCarthy will have to combat.
Where exactly does that leave us? McCarthy is a pretty decent bounce-back candidate based on the stats. There's nothing to suggest he's a pitcher who deserves to have a 5.00+ ERA. Despite that, he's moving to a tougher park in a tougher league. Regression should still take place, meaning McCarthy will likely be better over the second-half of the year, but expecting him to suddenly an ERA in the 3.00s might be tough given all the obstacles he'll have to overcome following the big move East.