David Lennon is an award-winning columnist and author who has been a staff writer at Newsday since 1991.
Brandon McCarthy's wife, Amanda, had a more difficult time with the Manhattan traffic Saturday than he did with the Reds.
How do we know? Amanda's Twitter account, of course. Thanks to @Mrs_McCarthy32, her tangled commute to his Yankee Stadium debut was chronicled step-by-step, including photos of the snarled FDR Drive.
"If everyone isn't apprised of what she's doing every few minutes,'' McCarthy said, "God knows what would happen.''
Here's some helpful advice to Amanda, as well as other Yankees fans on days that McCarthy is scheduled to pitch: Leave early.
In a refreshing change, McCarthy works fast, throws strikes and never strays far from the rubber. He's baseball's version of the hurry-up offense, and that pace -- along with the return of his cutter -- could make McCarthy the steal of this trading season.
Think we're crazy? McCarthy already has a great working relationship with Brian McCann, and the two seemed to be sharing the same brain as he stifled the Reds for six innings. McCarthy struck out nine without a walk. The lone run he allowed came on Chris Heisey's long homer to leftfield.
"I've been able to catch some guys in my career that have very similar stuff, like Tim Hudson,'' McCann said. "He changes eye levels really well so guys can't hunt for a certain pitch. In today's game, I feel like that's big.''
Whoa. Tim Hudson? For Vidal Nuño and a couple million bucks? We're not sure whether to praise Brian Cashman for this deal or blast Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers.
To be fair, McCarthy made it sound as if he had to get out of Arizona for this to happen.
The Diamondbacks basically discouraged him from using the cutter, but as soon as McCarthy switched places, the Yankees had a different opinion. They told him to bring it back. McCann believes the pitch is a key for McCarthy, and he wholeheartedly endorsed it.
"Arizona didn't want me throwing [the cutter]; they wanted me to be more sinker-heavy,'' McCarthy said. "That was something I didn't totally agree with. But now, coming here and going back over everything, I've realized that was a big part of my success. It's a nice change.''
McCarthy, who has a 1.42 ERA in his two Yankees starts, estimated he threw the cutter about 10 times in each of his first two starts for the Yankees. Here's why it's important. The cutter breaks away from righthanded hitters and into lefties. The sinker has the opposite effect. So when McCarthy is executing both pitches, hitters can't cheat in one particular area, and that's what crossed up the Reds in the Yankees' 7-1 victory Saturday. Of McCarthy's nine strikeouts, eight were swinging.
"He was doing whatever he wanted on the mound,'' McCann said. "That's the stuff he's got. He's got the ability to do what he did today every fifth day. I truly believe that. I think his stuff has always been there, and from what I've seen, he's got it.''
We'll take that a step further by saying that what McCarthy has goes beyond the pitching aspect of it.
Being dropped into the Bronx from Arizona is a bit of a culture shock. Then factor in jumping into a full-blown playoff race. Some might shrivel from that exposure, like an ant under a magnifying glass on a summer sidewalk. But from what we can tell so far in two starts -- albeit one in Cleveland -- McCarthy could be a good fit for this situation.
And timing is everything, right?
"For me, it's a point in my career where I wanted to be challenged,'' he said. "I really wanted to be in a pennant race. I wanted to be in a market that's difficult. I wanted that stuff -- to see if I could push myself to the next level. It's a great opportunity in that sense.''
With a wiped-out rotation, the Yankees are all about opportunity, whether you're from Arizona or Scranton.
With CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova out for the season, Masahiro Tanaka tentatively penciled in for six weeks from now and Michael Pineda's return uncertain, this rotation needs some stability. McCarthy, 31, has close to 200 starts in nine seasons on his resume, so he's no kid and no unknown quantity.
Two weeks ago, McCarthy was on a highway to oblivion, trying to show everyone that he was better than his 3-10 record and 5.01 ERA for the woeful Diamondbacks.
But now life is good. His only worry Saturday was a wife stuck in traffic.