To say Brandon McCarthy's tenure as an Arizona Diamondback got off to a rough start would be a bit of an understatement.
After seven starts, the right-hander was 0-3 with a 6.75 ERA. He had allowed 61 hits in 40 innings of work, and for a guy looking to prove himself with a new team, things could not have gone much worse.
However, the silver lining to McCarthy's struggles were his Batting Average on Balls in Play, or "BAbip", which at .385 was among the highest in all of baseball. Meant to convey how much luck a pitcher may be benefiting from, it showed an inordinate number of balls put into play off McCarthy were falling for hits.
So, while McCarthy may have been frustrated, he never really lost confidence in his stuff. As he told Arizona Sports 620's Doug and Wolf Monday, the beginning of the season was a little weird.
"It wasn't confidence was gone, it was more 'what am I missing here,'" he said. "Because everything felt right. My mechanics felt right, my arm felt good, everything was there and just the results weren't following."
McCarthy said this was the first time he's really "gone through something like that," which led to more confusion than anything. And given that he missed the last month of the 2012 season due to injuries sustained when he took a line drive off his head, there may have been some doubts as to if things would ever turn around.
The 29-year-old's last two starts, however, have been different. Including a complete-game shutout against the Miami Marlins Saturday, McCarthy hasn't surrendered a run in his last 17 innings of work, allowing just 10 hits and two walks while striking out 10. His BAbip over the stretch is .213, which may be more of a reason for why things improved than anything McCarthy has done.
"There's little tiny changes, not changes that go from giving up six runs to no runs," McCarthy admitted. "Nothing that big. But there's little mechanical tweaks that you're always making throughout the season that are kind of imperceptable if you're watching from the outside."
The pitcher's two outings lowered his ERA from 6.75 to 4.74, and while the starts came against two of the worst hitting teams in baseball, don't expect him to apologize. If good luck has started to replace the bad, that's fine too. It's a long season, and getting better results has helped McCarthy start to feel much more comfortable in the desert.
"The first few weeks are always difficult because everything is so new and it's not the same way you remember it," he said, comparing it to going to live with a different family. "It takes a little bit of touch and feeling.
"It also sucks a little more when you suck."