The 6’7” right-hander had all of his pitches working, including his sinker and cut-fastball, leading to six strikeouts looking. Saturday’s start appeared markedly better than his first rehab outing in hitter-friendly Reno, where he allowed six runs in just 3.2 innings.
Assuming he feels normal on Sunday, McCarthy will likely rejoin the A’s rotation when the team travels to Chicago next Friday to begin a six-game road trip.
McCarthy started quickly, striking out five hitters (four looking) in his first two innings before surrendering his first hit to lead off the third. Cedric Hunter, who spent spring training with the A's, hit ground ball down the first base line and that was the only ball that left the infield before Ryan Jackson flew out to deep left field in the sixth. McCarthy didn’t allow a base runner past second base.
But Oakland’s second-longest tenured starter did have a couple of high-leverage situations to deal with. In the third, he escaped from a no-out, runners on first and second-situation with a strikeout and easy 6-3 double-play courtesy of Cliff Pennington.
In the fifth, Eugenio Velez led off with an infield single and immediately stole second base. Pennington then made an athletic play on Luis Montanez’ slow ground ball to get Velez at third. McCarthy went on to get a strikeout and infield pop-out to keep his shutout intact. He finished off his night with a perfect, eight-pitch sixth inning.
Despite missing its ace, the A's starting rotation has remained one of the best in the American League. As a team, the A’s have the best ERA in the AL at 3.43, and only trail the Dodgers, Reds and Nationals in all of the big leagues.
Rookie A.J. Griffin replaced McCarthy in the rotation back in June and has fared very well in his first stint in the big leagues. Prior to leaving Saturday's A's game early with pain in his shoulder, Griffin began his career with seven-straight quality starts, leading to a record of 3-0 with a 2.42 ERA.
On Friday, right-hander Dan Straily made his major league debut for Oakland and became the sixth rookie to start a game for the A's this season. Rookies Jarrod Parker and Tom Milone have become staples of the club’s rotation that was previously anchored by veterans McCarthy and Bartolo Colon.
With Griffin’s injury, McCarthy could transition right back into the A's rotation in five days in Griffin's spot, should Griffin require a DL stint.