Seven years ago, Brandon McCarthy was a highly touted youngster contributing to the White Sox eventual run to the 2005 World Series. And the 17th-round pick of the Sox in 2002 was living up to his hype as the top pitching prospect in the organization.
As the regular season wound down and Cleveland closed on the White Sox, McCarthy turned out to be an invaluable piece of the team's starting rotation, throwing 14 23 scoreless innings over starts in Texas and Boston Aug. 30 and Sept 5. He made three starts in the final two weeks of the season and had a 2.33 ERA with 13 strikeouts and three walks in those 19 13 innings.
But McCarthy only started two games in 2006, serving mainly as a long reliever. He struggled, allowing 17 home runs with a 4.68 ERA in 84 23 innings. After the season, McCarthy was traded to Texas in the deal that landed the White Sox John Danks. Despite Danks' issues in 2012, the deal stands as one of the best ever executed by Kenny Williams.
While Danks flourished in Chicago, McCarthy floundered in Texas, dealing with ineffectiveness and a spate of injuries. He only started 44 games in three years with the Rangers, and had a 4.68 ERA in those outings.
But McCarthy re-emerged with Oakland in 2011 and was fantastic, as his 3.32 ERA and 12325 strikeout-to-walk ratio shows. He's been banged up in 2012, but in 12 starts the 29-year-old had a 2.54 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 19 walks.
And Friday, he'll make his first start at U.S. Cellular Field since being dealt on Dec. 23, 2006. Five and a half seasons have passed, with some major ups and downs. There was probably a time seven years ago when some figured McCarthy would be a staple of the White Sox rotation for years to come.
There were plenty of reasons to believe that notion, too. And the thought of McCarthy going nearly six years between starts on the South Side of Chicago was ludicrous.
One more note on McCarthy: He's among the best athletes to follow on Twitter, tweeting stuff like this:
Siri, how do you get Josh Hamilton out? Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) May 12, 2012
He'll pitch tonight against Gavin Floyd as the A's look to widen their lead on the Angels in the AL Wild Card race, while the White Sox will try to at least maintain their one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet with White Sox Pregame Live.