McCann brings out best in McCarthy

New Yankees starter Brandon McCarthy fanned nine in Saturday's rout of the Reds. Adam Hunger/USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK -- During Brandon McCarthy's short time as a Yankee, Brian McCann has been in his ear. To McCann, McCarthy's sinker/cutter/curveball combination makes him like a much-taller Tim Hudson.

"He's got top-of-the-rotation stuff," McCann said. "We are really glad to have him."

Two starts in, that's an understatement.

McCarthy threw six dominant innings Saturday, leading the Yankees to a 7-1 victory over the Reds, allowing just six hits, including a solo homer, no walks and striking out nine. This follows a 6 ⅔-inning, one-earned-run Yankees debut in Cleveland last week.

He has been a 6-foot-7 Band-Aid so far, covering for a rotation that is in disarray.

CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are done for the year and will try to return next season off surgeries.

Masahiro Tanaka, rehabbing now, may follow them to an operating table.

Michael Pineda? He is due back at some point in August, but he has yet proven he is close to reliable.

So the Yankees need to believe in the unbelievable, like maybe McCarthy can bottle his first two starts and be consistent the rest of the year.

McCarthy's been in the majors for nearly a decade and has a sub-.500 record because of a plus-4.00 ERA. Still, McCann thinks Yankees general manager Brian Cashman turned Vidal Nuno into a gem.

"I've been able to catch some guys with very similar stuff," McCann said. "Like Tim Hudson. He changes eye levels really well so guys can't hunt for a certain pitch. I talked to him about that. He was able to execute it right out the shoot."

In Arizona, pitching coach Mike Harkey and the Diamondbacks told the 31-year-old McCarthy to abandon his cutter. McCarthy disagreed but did as his bosses wished. The Yankees agree with McCarthy's self-assessment.

"I wasn't throwing it as well, but Arizona didn't want me throwing it anymore," McCarthy said of the cutter. "More or less, they wanted to kind of move it outward and be more sinker-heavy. It was something I didn't totally agree with, but now coming here and them going back and realizing that was a big part of my success, they decided to add that back in. That's been a nice change."

McCann is known for the way he handles pitchers. The impact of such skills are hard to prove tangibly. But they are certainly felt when you are standing 60 feet, 6 inches away.

Brandon McCarthy

Brandon McCarthy

#38 SP
New York Yankees

2014 STATS

  • GM20
  • W4

  • L10

  • BB21

  • K105

  • ERA4.63

"I love Miggy [Miguel Montero] in Arizona, but there is a lot of trust in McCann here now," McCarthy said. "He has been working with great pitchers over the years. He is known for his game-calling, his catching. The second you get a guy like that and he is telling you this is a good pitch. Let's use this and he is putting something down with conviction, there is no need to have any self-doubt."

Saturday, McCarthy worked quickly and appeared confident.

"I bought in full bore," McCarthy said. "From the first pitch, there was no doubt with any pitches."

McCarthy's strong pitching actually began before he was dealt to the Yankees. In his past four starts -- two with Arizona -- he is 3-0 with a 1.78 ERA.

"He has the ability to do what he did [today] every fifth day," McCann said. "I truly believe that."

McCarthy, who has been a journeyman in his career, wants to step up a level.

"It's the Yankees," McCarthy said. "You just mention the Yankees, and that's an opportunity no matter what the circumstances are. For me, it is at a point in my career where I want to be challenged. I want it to be a pennant race. I want to be close to the playoffs. I want to be in a market that can be difficult. I wanted that kind of stuff to see if I could push myself to the next level."

Two starts in, he sure is reaching new heights.