After weeks of losing one starting pitcher after another and needing to patch together their rotation, the Los Angeles Dodgers saw a change in their fortunes with the return of Brandon McCarthy on Sunday.
The decision to activate McCarthy from the 60-day disabled list was sparked by the right-hander as he informed the club he felt prepared to make his first Major League start, 14 months after undergoing Tommy John surgery.
Despite the long road back, McCarthy didn’t look the part of a pitcher coming off a long layoff. “I felt surprisingly normal. I wasn’t really expecting it to feel like I was right back in the swing of things,” he said after throwing five scoreless innings.
“But I felt normal, I didn’t feel too nervous. There wasn’t really anything going on that I wasn’t expecting. I just settled in.” Along with McCarthy racking up eight strikeouts and holding the Colorado Rockies to just two hits, he threw maintained high velocity throughout the outing.
“A lot of guys who come out of Tommy John surgery, their first start doesn’t go that well,” Yasmani Grandal said. “I was more surprised by the fact he had secondary pitches and his velocity was there.”
McCarthy, meanwhile, threw praise back in Grandal’s direction. “He did a great job with pitch calling against a lineup that scouting-report wise, matches up with me very well,” McCarthy said. “He did a great job keeping us ahead of the curve and using pitches in different counts that I wouldn’t typically use.”
Although Roberts said going into the outing there weren’t any limitations on McCarthy, he felt it best to remove the 32-year-old after 88 pitches in five innings. The decision was one McCarthy didn’t take issue with, noting he wasn’t completely stretched out during his rehab starts.
In his typical quick-witted nature, one of McCarthy’s takeaways was opening the game with a strikeout of Charlie Blackmon. “The first strikeout I was like, ‘OK, at least I didn’t end my career on a home run to Justin Upton,'” McCarthy quipped.