This time last year, pitcher Brandon McCarthy was fighting for the fifth and final spot in the A’s starting rotation. This year, however, the 28-year old right-hander will start on Opening Day for the A’s, notes the San Francisco Chronicle. It is amazing that McCarthy will get the nod to start in Oakland’s opener in Japan against the Mariners, especially when you consider that McCarthy’s career looked like it was coming to a fast close after various injuries and set-backs.
While the absence of Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill definitely factors in this decision to start McCarthy on Opening Day, McCarthy, more less, earned the Opening Day nod. Last year, the righty went 9-9 over 25 starts with a 3.32 ERA. He logged a career-high 170.2 innings of work and also managed to post a 2.86 FIP and a 4.7 WAR.
McCarthy also saw an increase his SO/9 rate, putting up a 6.49 SO/9 rate last year, which compared to his 6.01 SO/9 rate in 2009, is an improvement. He also cut back on his walks, posting a 1.32 BB/9 rate last year. Oh, and then there’s that small little fact that McCarthy posted a career-high 46.7% ground ball rate. All of these numbers, then, seem to justify the right-hander’s privilege to start on Opening Day in Japan.
He exceeded everyone’s expectations last year and while it’ll be difficult for the right-hander to maintain that 1.3 BB/9, McCarthy is expected to post solid numbers in his second year with the Athletics. Now that he’s got the Opening Day gig, it’ll be up to McCarthy to embody that ace-like presence the A’s will surely need this season.
Aside from McCarthy, it is expected the A’s will roll with a rotation that includes recently acquired Bartolo Colon. Colon, 38, will likely start game two in the Japan series, but after Colon, the A’s rotation is a bit murky.
The team has a few options to help fill out their rotation, but Bob Melvin will have his hands full nonetheless when it comes to assembling the rest of his starting rotation. Tom Milone, Jarrod Parker, Tyson Ross, Graham Godfrey, and Brad Peacock are all vying for a spot in Oakland’s starting rotation this spring.