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McCarthy healthy, ready for normal offseason

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McCarthy healthy, ready for normal offseason

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Pitcher Brandon McCarthy is ready for a normal offseason after being medically cleared this week to resume his regular routine, less than three months after being struck in the head by a line drive and undergoing emergency brain surgery.

``Everything's good,'' McCarthy said by telephone Thursday. ``This last month I have taken the rest part very seriously. I have a couple little projects I've picked up, I read - I'm actually really good at being lazy. It kind of worked out well timing wise.''

McCarthy, a free agent right-hander who was Oakland's opening-day starter last March in Tokyo, spent Monday and Tuesday undergoing extensive evaluations by renowned concussion expert, Dr. Michael Collins, at the University of Pittsburgh. He returned to his Dallas-area home Wednesday and was cleared by Collins to begin working out.

``Today I'll start doing something, easing in and starting the program they gave me,'' McCarthy said. ``Next week I'll be heading back to where I usually work out.''

McCarthy took a line drive to the right side of his head off the bat of the Los Angeles Angels' Erick Aybar on Sept. 5. The 29-year-old McCarthy sustained an epidural hemorrhage, brain contusion and skull fracture on the play, then underwent a two-hour surgery at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. After the frightening ordeal, the club initially referred to McCarthy's situation as ``life-threatening.''

Now, he checks in with Dr. Collins once a week to let him know that everything is going well, or if something seems a little off. McCarthy's concussion symptoms have subsided, but he still has to use caution and take notice of everything when exerting himself.

``Going to Dr. Collins kind of confirmed all that, you're back to where you'd be at normally,'' McCarthy said. ``As I go back to working out, as long as I feel fine, I'm pretty much on my own. I'll slowly ease back into working out, then jump back into my full program.''

McCarthy went 8-6 with a 3.24 ERA this year in his sixth big league season and second with the A's. McCarthy was 9-9 with a 3.32 ERA last season.

He plans to begin playing catch next month, then throw bullpens starting in January if all continues to go well. The San Francisco Chronicle first reported he had been cleared to resume baseball activities.

``It worked out well I recovered in the time I did,'' McCarthy said. ``This shouldn't be something lingers into the offseason.''

The AL West champion A's have received regular updates on McCarthy's condition, and he could still be a good option to re-sign as long as the medical reports remain positive.

McCarthy plans to let the process play out in time - knowing his case isn't as it would be had he not been hurt late in the year with such a scary injury that left plenty questioning whether he would ever pitch again.

The support from the A's front office, medical staff, coaches, teammates and fans has meant so much to McCarthy and his wife, Amanda.

``It's definitely not something I'd rule out,'' he said of staying with Oakland. ``The timing is a little strange going into free agency for the first time, having different options, waiting to see where you're at health wise. We'll listen to everybody. It's a whirlwind. But (Oakland), it's absolutely a place I'd love to be.''

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NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Power Rankings: The West is set while the Caps still have work to do

There are only two series left in the first round that have yet to be decided. The Caps just so happen to be playing in one of those series.

After falling into a 0-2 hole to start, Washington has rattled off three straight wins and now sits just one away from putting away the Columbus Blue Jackets and advancing to the second round.

Should the Capitals advance, they will play the Pittsburgh Penguins for the third consecutive season.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

The Penguins ended their series against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday in Game 6. Jake Guentzel scored four goals in the effort proving once and for all that yes, goaltending is important in the playoffs. Head coach Mike Sullivan has still yet to lose a playoff series as the head coach of Pittsburgh as he led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in each of the past two seasons.

In the Atlantic, the Tampa Bay Lightning await the winner of the Boston Bruins - Toronto Maple Leafs series after dispatching the New Jersey Devils in five games. After a strong regular season, the Maple Leafs looked poised to take the next step, but Auston Matthews has only two points in five games and Toronto faces elimination at the hands of the Bruins Monday in Game 5.

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All four series in the West, meanwhile, have already been decided. Both the Vegas Golden Knights and San Jose Sharks managed four-game sweeps in the first round and will face one another in the second  The miraculous season of the Golden Knights continues and it would be hard to argue at this point that they are not legitimate Stanly Cup contenders considering all they have accomplished in both the regular season and the playoffs.

Wins by the Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets now sets up a second-round battle between the top two teams in the league from the regular season.

<<NHL POWER RANKINGS: STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS>>

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The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

The betting houses are bearish on the 2018 Redskins

With the NFL schedule dropped last week, many fans and media types went through and predicted wins and losses for the teams they follow, just for fun. But others predict the records of teams and it’s not for laughs, it’s for very high stakes.

The betting houses in Las Vegas and offshore have established their lines for over/under in wins. They then take this a step further and go through the playoffs to establish the odds of winning the Super Bowl. 

Over the weekend, BetOnline published one of each and let’s just say that they do not like what the Redskins have done this offseason. Or, more accurately, they think that the public perception is that the Redskins will not be a very good team this year. 

Their over/under for wins is 5.5. They won seven games last year so the under would represent a decline of at least two wins. This line seems to be low. The Redskins won seven games last year with the worst injury situation in the league, per the numbers crunchers at Football Outsiders. They also faced one of the toughest schedules in the league in terms of opponent winning percentages. 

Yes, they did lose Kirk Cousins to free agency but they replaced him with Alex Smith, who, like Cousins, is not elite or even in the top 10 but in the category of solid, reliable quarterbacks. The QB exchange was close to a wash. But despite the fact that the chances are they will suffer fewer injuries and face a schedule that isn’t as much of a meat grinder, this over/under has the Redskins producing double-digit losses. They have managed to stay out of 10-plus loss territory for three straight years. 

There are more reasons to think that they will win at least as many games as they did last year than there are to think that they will win fewer. If I’m betting, which I’m not, I’d be tempted to hit the over on that pretty hard. 

I would keep my money in my pocket when it comes to betting on the Redskins’ chances of winning the Super Bowl. I don’t think they’re close, but I think they’re much closer than the Browns but BetOnline has Cleveland and Washington with the same odds of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. The Redskins, Browns, and Bucs are at +6600 to win it all. The Redskins odds are worse than all but six other teams. 

Again, I don’t think that the Redskins are going to win the Super Bowl. Winning a playoff game would be quite an accomplishment for them. But same could be said of the Colts, Giants, Chargers, and 49ers, but they all have considerably better odds than the Redskins. 

In fact, there may be some irrational exuberance with the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo. They have the seventh-best odds at +1600. Sure, Jimmy G was very good in five meaningless games at the end of last season. Let’s see how he does with some pressure on and after defensive coaches have had a chance to study how to take away his strengths. It just goes to show you how little real analysis goes into this. 

I get a little annoyed when teams play the disrespect card, especially when they have to look too hard to find it. But if the Redskins look at this, they certainly can embrace the underdog role if they want to. What they do with it, we will find out starting September 9. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.