McCarthy recaptures his winning ways

Brandon McCarthy looks like he’s going to make something good out of his 2014 season after all.

It took McCarthy five starts to earn his fourth win with the New York Yankees, surpassing the number of wins (three) he had in 18 starts before being traded away by the Arizona Diamondbacks earlier this season.

McCarthy gutted it out through 5 2/3 innings in the Yankees’ win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday night, allowing an unearned run and striking out eight.

Brandon McCarthy - 2014 Season

McCarthy has noted on a couple of occasions that his success with the Yankees coincides with his return to throwing the cutter more often. In his last four starts with the Diamondbacks, McCarthy threw a total of 21 cutters. That’s the same number he has averaged in five starts with the Yankees.

Monday, he threw 27 of them, 18 for strikes, netting five outs (including one apiece against hot-hitting Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez) and yielding only one baserunner with the pitch. The cutter’s effectiveness has come with a decline in the use of his curveball, a pitch against which opponents have a .278 batting average, with eight doubles, two triples and a home run in his time with the Diamondbacks. He was throwing that pitch a little more than one-quarter of the time with Arizona, but has done so only 16 percent of the time with the Yankees.

McCarthy is also frustrating hitters with his sinker, as they have been unable to put it in play at an effective rate. The four highest foul-ball rates that McCarthy has had with his sinker this season have all come in starts with the Yankees. Tigers hitters had 38 foul balls against McCarthy on Monday—28 of them came against the sinker.

The eight strikeouts continued a trend for McCarthy, who is on pace for a career-best strikeout rate. McCarthy is averaging 7.8 strikeouts per 9 innings. The only other season in which he has averaged better than seven per nine innings was in 2006, his second season in the major leagues, in which he pitched almost entirely in relief.

McCarthy’s best strikeout pitch on Monday was actually his curveball. He notched three strikeouts with the pitch, including Miguel Cabrera and Torii Hunter in the first two innings.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day

The Yankees have now played 15 straight games decided by no more than two runs. That’s the longest streak in team history and the longest streak by any team since the Baltimore Orioles played in 16 straight games decided by two runs or fewer in 1975.