Analysis: Yankees get McCarthy for Nuno

July, 6, 2014
Jul 6
12:26
PM ET
NEW YORK -- They failed to acquire Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, probably have no shot of getting David Price and would be taking a huge gamble by going after Cliff Lee. So what's left for the Yankees?



Well, in what looks like a straight swap of struggling back-of-the-rotation starters, they have acquired RHP Brandon McCarthy from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for LHP Vidal Nuno.

So? On the surface, the Yankees have acquired a tall (6-foot-7), thin (200 pounds) righty with a five-plus ERA for a short (listed 5-11, more like 5-10), stocky (195) lefthander with a five-plus ERA. They also got a little older. McCarthy turns 31 on Monday; Nuno turns 27 at the end of this month. But did they get any better?

Maybe: At first glance, this looks pretty much like a wash, one of those deals where each team is hoping that ephemeral "change of scenery" will result in a change in performance. McCarthy is 45-60 with a 4.21 ERA in 139 career starts over 10 seasons with four teams; Nuno is 3-7 with a 4.78 ERA in 17 career starts over two seasons, both with the Yankees.

You have to look pretty deep into some advanced metrics to see where and why McCarthy might be an upgrade. He throws harder than Nuno; according to measurements by BrooksBaseball.net, McCarthy's four-seam fastball has averaged 94 mph this season and his sinker 93, both up from around 89 when he broke into the majors in 2005, while Nuno loiters between 89 and 91. McCarthy has allowed 1.04 HRs per nine innings compared to Nuno's 1.56/9, which could make a noticeable difference in hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium, where Nuno struggled. And McCarthy's xFIP -- a measurement designed to predict how likely a pitcher is to allow a home run -- is 2.89 this season, considered excellent, while Nuno's is a whopping 5.14, which can be described only as awful.

If nothing else, it looks as if McCarthy will be better at keeping the ball in the ballpark.

Game changer? Probably not. While McCarthy likely represents an upgrade over Nuno, he is not going to carry the Yankees to the division title or pitch them through the playoffs and into the World Series. For that, they need to snag Price or a vintage Lee, neither of whom seem to be available to them. But McCarthy might represent an additional win -- or two or three -- which considering the mediocrity of the American League East could mean the difference between playing at least one game in October or going home on Sept. 28.

QUESTION: Do you like this deal?
Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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TEAM LEADERS

BA LEADER
Brett Gardner
BA HR RBI R
.283 14 47 68
OTHER LEADERS
HRM. Teixeira 18
RBIM. Teixeira 50
RB. Gardner 68
OPSB. Gardner .816
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAM. Tanaka 2.51
SOM. Tanaka 135