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Brandon McCarthy to retire after 2018 season, per report

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The longtime veteran might be hanging it up after the season ends.

MLB: Atlanta Braves at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, it was reported that Brandon McCarthy had thrown off a mound, and could return in September as a reliever for the Braves. Now, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman has followed that up with an article indicating that whether or not McCarthy works out of the bullpen later this season, he will be retiring at the end of the 2018 season.

In the full article, which you can read here, Bowman notes the following:

  • McCarthy chose to rehab his knee without surgery in the hopes of returning this year, as part of his retirement decision. McCarthy is quoted as saying that had he not chosen to retire, and therefore to return to MLB action for a season during which he’d turn 36 years of age, he would have gone under the knife and prepared to be ready for Spring Training next year.
  • McCarthy has made mechanical adjustments to allow him to pitch through the knee tendinitis he is experiencing, which has kept him on the shelf since June 24. McCarthy is again quoted as indicating that if the adjustments are not successful in helping him retire hitters on his rehab assignment, he may not come back to active duty, saving the roster spot for another arm more capable of contributing to the Braves’ postseason chase.

Bowman indicates that one of McCarthy’s mechanical adjustments is lowering his arm slot. This usually tends to make pitchers harder to hit by same-handed batters, but makes them more vulnerable to matchups where they lack the platoon advantage. This suggests McCarthy could see use as a right-handed specialist in September if he does return, though this is just speculation on my part.

Acquired as part of the deal that sent Matt Kemp back to Los Angeles, McCarthy gave the Braves 15 starts with a 121 ERA-, 118 FIP-, and a 91 xFIP- this season. While his peripherals were actually an improvement over his very effective but injury-shortened 2017, his homer rate was off the charts and led to his grisly run prevention and FIP marks.

At the time McCarthy was placed on the Disabled List, there was speculation that this was a maneuver by the Braves to manage their roster through short DL stints for their pitchers, a strategy used at length by the former club of both McCarthy and Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. However, McCarthy did not return after the requisite 10 days, and has been on the shelf since a June 24 start in which he allowed two homers but defeated the Orioles anyway.

If he does indeed retire at the end of this year, McCarthy will conclude his career having thrown over 1,220 major league innings and having compiled somewhere around 16 fWAR. McCarthy was a member of the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox team as a rookie, and appeared in the World Series against last season, where he pitched an inning in relief in Game 2.