The San Francisco Giants travel across the bay for a rematch with the Oakland Athletics this weekend with major question marks at two rotation spots. On Sunday, they will square off against the A's ace, Brandon McCarthy, who would be an excellent mid-season addition to the Giants' rotation.
After a hot start to the season, Barry Zito has put up a 4.94 ERA in May and a 6.75 ERA thus far in June. Tim Lincecum is dead last in all of baseball with a 6.19 ERA. All of a sudden the starting rotation, which was presumed to be the strength of the team before the season, looks like it will need shoring up before the July 31 trading deadline.
According to Jon Morosi and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the San Francisco Giants had scouts in attendance to watch Houston Astros starting pitcher and trade candidate Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday night. Rodriguez is owed an additional $5 million this season plus $13 million next year; therefore, he is likely going to be out of the Giants' price range.
The Giants also had scouts in attendance at the A's game on Tuesday night because the A's are their next opponent. The Giants' scouts had to like what they saw from McCarthy.
In seven innings of work against the Giants' hated rival, the Los Angeles Dodgers, McCarthy allowed only two hits, a walk and no runs while striking out five, and inducing 10 ground-ball outs.
The 6'7" right-hander throws with excellent downhill plane, which helps him induce ground balls. He attacks the strike zone with five pitches: a four-seam fastball, a cutter, a two-seam fastball, a curveball and a changeup, although he did not throw any changeups on Tuesday night.
He attacks hitters mainly with the cutter and two-seamer, mixing in the breaking ball to change speeds. His repertoire reminds me a lot of Ryan Vogelsong's, although McCarthy has better control than Vogelsong.
His command and control are impeccable. His 2.19 walks allowed per nine innings is in the top 30 in all of baseball, which would be a big improvement over Lincecum (4.79 walks per nine) or Zito (4.02). The combination of elite control and movement, plus solid velocity (89-92 MPH), makes McCarthy a frontline starter.
McCarthy, 28, will be a free agent at the end of the season. He is only set to make another $2.1 million this season, so he will not break the bank. The key questions with him are whether or not the A's are inclined to move him, what they would demand in return for his services and whether or not his shoulder can hold up.
McCarthy has been placed on the disabled list once this season with shoulder soreness, and he was recently given extra rest when his shoulder acted up again.
In the loaded American League, the A's playoff chances are very slim. Unless they play over their heads for the next month, they are likely to become sellers before the trading deadline, and McCarthy will be their best asset to deal. If the A's do decide to become sellers, the Giants should jump at the opportunity to replace either Zito or Lincecum in the rotation with McCarthy.
The window for success is now in San Francisco. The Giants' offense has its limitations, but there are not a lot of clear options to upgrade the lineup. The rotation is supposed to be the strength of the team, but with Zito and Lincecum struggling, the Giants are only competitive three out of every five days right now. If the A's are willing to move McCarthy, the Giants should attempt to swing a deal to bring him across the bay to bolster the rotation.