04/27/2013 8:37 PM ET
Advanced stats show upside to McCarthy's slow start
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Throughout Brandon McCarthy's winless stretch over his first five outings of the season, the right-hander has maintained that he is pitching well but getting unlucky at inopportune times and then letting the damage snowball.
In addition to the bloop or fluky hits that prove his point, McCarthy has some numbers to back it up when examining a couple of complex sabermetrics statistics.
The 29-year-old's batting average on balls in play (BABIP), which measures how many balls in play against a pitcher go for hits, is a sky-high .396, the third highest of any pitcher in baseball. The league average for the stat, over which pitchers have little control, is around .300.
Another stat in McCarthy's favor is fielding independent pitching (FIP), a number used to show what a player's ERA should look like, assuming that defense on balls in play and timing were league average. While the righty's real ERA is 7.48, his FIP is a much lower 3.64. In comparison, Trevor Cahill has a 3.66 FIP and Ian Kennedy is at 3.94.
The league average for FIP is around 4.00, so McCarthy actually ranks well in the category despite his poor traditional pitching numbers.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson also believes McCarthy has been unfortunate at times and has actually performed well this season.
"He is throwing well, he had the best stuff [Friday] he has had since joining us," Gibson said. "But if you look at the difference a few plays make, it's huge. But it's part of baseball and he has to deal with it."
Because of some of the plays that have gone against the right-hander, Gibson won't ask McCarthy to make any changes moving forward, he just hopes the unlucky streak begins to even out.
"In my mind, he understands what's going on," Gibson said. "It's not like he's hurt, mechanically screwed up or he can't throw ball where he wants, it's none of that. It just hasn't gone our way. I'm very comfortable with where he is at."
Gregorius feeling better; CT scan results normal
PHOENIX -- A day after being drilled in the helmet with a 93-mph fastball, D-backs shortstop Didi Gregorius reported feeling sore, but better, on Saturday. The rookie underwent a precautionary CT scan late Friday and the results came back normal.
D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said the club won't place Gregorius on the seven-day concussion disabled list for now, but he wouldn't rule it out entirely.
"We'll see how he's doing as the day progresses," Gibson said. "There is just a protocol you follow in these situations and we will certainly err on the side of caution."
In the meantime, the D-backs will play a man down with Gregorius in limbo. Gibson expects the club to make a decision on the shortstop either Sunday or Monday.
Since making his team debut on April 18, Gregorius, the D-backs' No. 3 prospect according to MLB.com, was batting 11-for-27 (.407) with six extra-base hits, including a pair of homers. Friday was the first time in his baseball career that he had been hit in the head with a pitch.
"I tried to get out of the way, but I wasn't fast enough," he said. "It swelled up yesterday, and I had a light headache. It feels sore, but otherwise I feel good."
After being struck, Gregorius immediately fell to the ground and was tended to by a member of the D-backs' training staff. He remained on the ground for a couple of minutes, but he said he never lost consciousness.
"I couldn't get up right away and they told me to stay down too," he said. "Then I was talking for a little bit. At least I didn't get knocked out."
Despite the inherent scariness of the injury, Gregorius said he harbors no ill feelings toward Rockies reliever Josh Outman, who hit him with the pitch.
"I don't think he did it on purpose so everything is good," Gregorius said. "I had two strikes on me anyways."
Even though the two hadn't talked yet on Saturday, Outman expressed a desire to apologize to Gregorius sometime this weekend before the Rockies leave town.
Kubel eyes Wednesday return from rehab assignment
PHOENIX -- There is light at the end of the tunnel for Jason Kubel. The D-backs outfielder, rehabbing from a strained left quad, will head to Triple-A Reno on Monday with the hopes of being activated Wednesday for the club's home series finale with the Giants.
"It could change, but that's kind of where we are right now," D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. "He's kind of ready but we'd like to send him out to confirm that."
Kubel, who incurred the injury on April 5, hasn't played in a Major League game since April 12. Since then, the 30-year-old has been working out and playing in games at club's Spring Training facility in Scottsdale.
"If it were up to me, I'm ready to go now," said Kubel, who hit a home run in an extended spring game Saturday. "I'm feeling good right now, I haven't felt a thing in my leg for a week now."
Kubel attempted to sway Gibson into letting him skip the rehab assignment, but the manager wasn't having it.
"They all do that," Gibson said. "I've been through this before, I understand he wants to play and feels he's ready, we're just going to make sure that's the right thing to do first."
• Mired in an 8-for-55 (.145) slump since April 12, Martin Prado batted leadoff Saturday for the first time this season. The 29-year-old has seen his batting average drop from .304 to .218 over the stretch.
In 134 career starts batting first, Prado has a .298 batting average with 19 homers and 71 RBIs.
• Prado isn't the only D-backs player cold at the plate right now. Since April 11, Miguel Montero and Cliff Pennington are a combined 10-for-77 (.130).
• The D-backs have held the lead in 16 of their 23 games this season.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.