Brandon McCarthy sharp in three-inning Braves debut


Two innings weren’t enough for Brandon McCarthy on Wednesday.

In his first spring training start with the Braves, McCarthy pitched a perfect first inning before requiring extra work to escape the second. 

He needed to see more.

“I asked for another inning,” McCarthy said. “I hate the one, two-inning outings. Feels like you’re not getting anything accomplished. So getting a third inning was nice, to be able to get back out there after I was a little bit tired in the second. You can settle back in, get a little bit of stuff worked on.”

McCarthy pitched a perfect third, inducing two shallow pop-ups and a grounder. He held the Mets to one hit and no runs across three frames.

“Like midseason; he was sharp,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “Spot on with everything. Really efficient, real good.”

He retired the first four hitters in order, including three via strikeout. McCarthy gave up a single to Peter Alonso and walked Zach Borenstein as his only misfires.

Catcher Tyler Flowers fired the ball to third for Rio Ruiz to tag Alonso out trying to advance. McCarthy got Gavin Cecchini to end the inning with a ground out.

“I had a couple pitches that weren’t sharp, kind of rushing out of there,” McCarthy said. “It was good to recognize that, and I know this week that’s a focus. I have to work on that and pick it up for the game next week.”

McCarthy’s velocity sat at 91-92 mph with a high of 93. He averaged 93.7 a season ago, and 93.1 in 2016.

“If I haven’t hit the cliff, then it’s good news,” he said.

After being limited to 19 games a season ago because of a recurring finger blister, knee tendinitis and a dislocated non-throwing shoulder, McCarthy’s feeling fully healthy this spring.

“Each year I get older, it’s (about) making sure everything’s not broken, or at least it’s not you come back, you’re not throwing 84 and you know this is the end is really the first checkpoint,” McCarthy said. 

“And after that, do I feel comfortable with my delivery, like I’m pacing things well; after that it’s can I make pitches when I need to, am I sharp? Do I feel like I can execute? And slowly building from there is making sure you’re getting the reps in closer to the season.”

For McCarthy, a 12-year veteran who’s on his seventh team, spring training is the same regardless of the uniform. He just focuses on building a consistent routine during what he coins a “boring” period.

When the Braves acquired McCarthy from the Dodgers in December, he immediately became the team’s most seasoned starter. That doesn’t add a heightened sense of responsibility, he says. He just wants to be available for the younger arms.

“Maybe as the season went on that would be the case if guys had questions,” he said. “Otherwise, I don’t take much into that. A lot of these guys have played with older guys who’ve been doing everything.” 

Snitker sees value in McCarthy’s experience.

“It stabilizes your rotation,” Snitker said. “You’ve got young guys, not-so-young guys trying to establish themselves. It’d be nice to have some stability.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Atlanta Braves

Evan Phillips ‘always believed’ he’d be major leaguer
Evan Phillips ‘always believed’ he’d be major leaguer

Evan Phillips knew the day was coming, but he didn’t expect the call Saturday night. The reliever’s breakthrough campaign earned him a spot in the ever-changing Braves bullpen. Phillips, a 17th-round draft pick in 2015, has exceeded expectations and will have the opportunity to secure a permanent role in the majors. “It meant everything...
Teheran’s first-inning woes strike again
Teheran’s first-inning woes strike again

Julio Teheran’s alarming first-inning performance this season might not be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, but it’s nonetheless difficult to figure out. The Braves’ five-time opening-day starter and two-time former All-Star has not pitched like either of those descriptions in a majority of starts this season, and the...
Teheran slammed early, Braves lose game and series to Orioles
Teheran slammed early, Braves lose game and series to Orioles

Baseball mojo can be a maddening, temperamental mistress, and that’s not even taking into account the unpredictable state of Julio Teheran’s pitching. And so it is that the Braves, who hadn’t lost a home series since early May, saw that streak snapped Saturday when Teheran gave up a first-inning grand slam to Mark Trumbo in a 7-5...
Braves closer Vizcaino dealing with balky shoulder
Braves closer Vizcaino dealing with balky shoulder

The Braves know that if they hope to have closer Arodys Vizcaino healthy for the long haul of a season, they’re going to have to be a bit more careful with him than most other teams are with their closers. “Viz has been put back together a couple of times, so there’s always going to be an awareness of that,” Braves manager Brian...
Braves relievers Winkler, Moylan feel the weight of 15-inning loss
Braves relievers Winkler, Moylan feel the weight of 15-inning loss

With closer Arodys Vizcaino nursing a sore shoulder and manager Brian Snitker wanting to wait another day before using him, the Braves turned to Dan Winkler Friday in a ninth-inning save opportunity with a two-run lead against the Orioles.  And he blew it sky-high in a six-run inning. And after the Braves scored four runs in the bottom of the...
More Stories