Brandon McCarthy - SP, NYY
McCarthy did not enjoy a good first half in Arizona, where he went 3-10 with a 5.01 ERA over 19 starts. He was traded to the Yankees earlier this month in exchange for Vidal Nuno.
You can't really argue that the change of scenery will benefit the right-hander -- Yankee Stadium isn't much more pitcher-friendly than Chase Field, and he'll now have to deal with AL East lineups and designated hitters -- but it's fair to expect improvement in the second half for the same reason that New York likely targeted him: strong peripherals suggesting he has performed much better than his results show.
McCarthy's rocky results with the Diamondbacks came in spite of a very solid 96-to-21 K/BB ratio in 109 innings. His K-rate was the highest of his career and his walk rate was in in line with his typically low marks in recent years. He was also inducing grounders at an extremely high rate, which is pretty new for him as he has traditionally been a fly ball pitcher.
Despite those positive underlying signs, McCarthy was victimized by a .347 BABIP, and by nearly 20 percent of fly balls hit against him leaving the yard. Even as he moves into another hitter's haven, it stands to reason that those unsustainable rates will improve.
The result, I'd suspect, will be a second-half ERA that is closer to his 3.76 FIP than to his current bloated ERA.
The 31-year-old's first start with New York was a relative success; he lasted 6 2/3 innings, and although he did give up four runs, only one was earned. He issued just one walk and didn't allow a homer -- those will be the most important things to watch, along with the strikeouts.
Brett Anderson - SP, COL
Anderson's promising career has been derailed by injury time and time again. Formerly a second-round draft pick, the lefty once ranked among the best prospects in the game, and took the big leagues by storm when he went 18-17 with a 3.57 ERA in his first two seasons for the A's.
Still just 22 years old, Anderson looked poised to become one of the American League's top starters, but a cavalcade of ailments limited him to just 24 starts from 2011 through 2013, and ultimately the pitching-loaded Athletics were willing to part with him for very little during this past offseason when they sent him to the Rockies.
Unfortunately, the new surroundings didn't reverse Anderson's bad injury luck. In just his third start for Colorado, he fractured his left index finger during an at-bat, and ended up missing three months. He finally made his return to the Rockies rotation this past weekend, and was knocked around for six runs (five earned) on 10 hits over five innings.
That's not exactly an encouraging outing, and in general the move to Coors Field hardly bodes well, but there are a couple important things to keep in mind with Anderson: he's still talented, and he's still young.
He's rarely been able to stay on the mound over the past four years, but when he's pitched, the southpaw has shown many of his signature skills: solid command, a good K/BB ratio and an outstanding GB rate. Those strengths should play well even in the hitter-friendly confines of his new park, giving Anderson a much better shot at success than many of his counterparts in the rotation.
He's also only 26 years old, which places him in the early part of his physical prime. If he can finally fend off the injury problems, Anderson is more than capable of rattling off an excellent stretch here in the final months, reminding us why he was once one of the brightest young arms in the game.