By Jason Wojciechowski on May 20, 2012 at 2:45 PM
Brandon McCarthy was placed on the Disabled List today with a sore ... well, you can guess what's sore. It's what's always sore. His right shoulder hurts, as it's hurt him every year probably since he was about 19. The words he said to the media, which can be found here, among other places, indicate that neither he nor the doctors he saw when he shut himself down feel this is anything serious. His MRI was clean.
Of course, we've seen clean MRIs before, and we've heard double-talk from players before. Maybe he's just sore and fatigued, maybe this is an entirely new problem separate from the shoulder-blade issues he's had in the past, maybe it's a cascade injury. There are a lot of maybes, so it's hard to speculate about how long McCarthy will be out (the D.L. trip is back-dated to Friday, so he's eligible to come off on June 2nd, if I'm counting my days correctly).
What's easier to speculate on is who will replace McCarthy in the rotation. Jim Miller has come back to the bullpen for now, but that's surely just a "get a fresh arm in there and make a decision on a starting pitcher when we actually need to" move. There are essentially two options for the McCarthy slot in the starting rotation: Graham Godfrey and Brad Peacock.
Godfrey is what he is, a filler guy who you hope can be a fifth starter if you have to call on him. A cut above an organizational soldier, but not someone you'd ever want to be relying on with a championship-level team.
Peacock is the prospect who came over in the Gio Gonzalez trade with the Nationals, a guy who Kevin Goldstein ranked as the A's fourth-best prospect overall, and their third-best pitching tyro, behind only Jarrod Parker (already in the big-leagues and a guy who could/should pan out as a well-above-average starter, if something short of a top-fifteen type of guy) and A.J. Cole (young, but apparently with ace upside -- he's struggling in Stockton so far, by the way, and struggling badly, as his ERA is all the way up at 7.82, his BABIP stands over .400, and he's giving up a homer every five and a half innings). Peacock is striking out nearly a batter per inning in Sacramento and walking a touch over three per nine. He's been a fly-ball guy (35% on the ground per Baseball Prospectus) but this hasn't translated into homers. Despite pitching in the PCL, he's given up just two bombs in 45 innings.
These aren't dominant numbers, necessarily, but they're good numbers, and nobody thinks Peacock is a future ace anyway, so maybe this is about what you'd expect him to do in AAA. (His numbers in Syracuse last year were similar, though he had a probably-unsustainably low .250 BABIP driving down his hits-allowed. He's cut his walk rate by a third this year, notably.) In which case it might well be time to bring him up.
On the other hand, Graham Godfrey reportedly had his last start cut short, and not by injury. Do note, however, that McCarthy's last start was on May 17th, the same day that Peacock last pitched.