Brandon McCarthy going back to the cutter
Part of McCarthy’s success this year has been his strand rate of 86% but he has made changes to how he pitches this year. In the past, he didn’t use his cutter this much but in 2017 he is using the cutter at almost the same rate (22%) as his curveball (24%). For context, he used his cutter only 14% during his breakout 2014 season. Before 2014 he had been using the cutter over 30% of the time. His ground ball rate has spiked back to 50% which is the highest since his breakout in 2014. Of course he has barely pitched since 2014 so that 38 % groundball rate in 2015 and 2016 are meaningless.
It would seem that for McCarthy to keep his success going in 2017 he will need to reduce his walk rate so that when his strand rate starts to normalize (at least 70%) he won’t be severely punished and might get a push. The big selling point on McCarthy in the winter of 2014 was that outstanding walk rate of 1.49. It is now 3.71.
There is a lot to like about McCarthy this year, his velocity is outstanding for him (93MPH), solid K rate, going deep into games (for a Dodger pitcher not named Kershaw), and excellent ground ball rate. If he can just keep these gains while knocking down the walk rate he just might be a very useful rotation piece and for the first time as a Dodger, earn his salary.