Dodgers News: Brandon McCarthy Battled Through Case Of Yips
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

After the disappointment that came with missing the majority of last season due to Tommy John surgery, Brandon McCarthy’s return in 2016 was encouraging. However, his climb up the mountain turned into a roller coaster ride.

Upon coming off the disabled list at the beginning of July, McCarthy demonstrated strong command and pitched well. He went 2-2 with a 1.61 ERA through four starts, allowed three runs on four hits in just four innings pitched to the Tampa Bay Rays, then came unglued in his ensuing three outings.

From Aug. 2 to Aug. 13, McCarthy didn’t eclipse more than 3.2 innings in any of his three starts, and issued a career high five walks each time out. During that span, McCarthy lost control of his fastball.

The Dodgers and McCarthy explained the trouble was tied to hip stiffness. However, the right-hander was a bit more revealing as the club celebrated their 2016 National League West division title.

“Before, it was pretty close to the yips. It all got really bad. This last month has been a fairly miserable month,” McCarthy said while wearing a t-shirt drenched in champagne and beer.

“You don’t know if it’s going to be the end of your career. The last two weeks have been a nice bright spot. To get back [Sunday] and be part of this, is more than I can ask for.”

McCarthy managed to pitch well in bullpen sessions and simulated games during his time on the DL. But he wasn’t certain that would carry over into a game and faced a tougher hill to climb than last year’s elbow surgery. “Coming back from Tommy John you’re not worried your career is over,” he said.

“The yips was a whole different (thing) — OK, I don’t ever know if I can throw a baseball in a competitive Major League Baseball game. “Coming into this start (against Colorado Rockies), I was about as nervous as I’ve been for any start in a long time.”

McCarthy made gradual improvements on his way back, which involved mechanical changes. “There was kind of a moment where I tried something new. Mechanically, I think something probably crept in while I was going through the rehab process,” he explained.

“In the rehab process you’re not focused on your execution or mechanics. You’re really just focused on, ‘Do I feel good this day?’ Finally, I started to work on something mechanically. I don’t know if the yips are totally mental. I think they’re something mental that comes from something physical. But as I got through it, I was like OK, something physical has opened up and now I feel back to normal.”

McCarthy showed signs of drastic improvement, recording several strikeouts even with runners on base. He enjoyed his afternoon of work and was honored to start in what was Vin Scully’s final home game.

On the season, McCarthy is 2-2 with a 3.60 ERA, 3.61 FIP and 1.23 WHIP. There was some thought he would garner a start this weekend, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with the Dodgers setting their rotation for the final stretch of regular-season games.