James McDonald
James McDonald
34-Year-Old PitcherRP
 Free Agent  
Free Agent
Out
Injury
Est. Return 2/15/2015
2019 Fantasy Outlook
There was no outlook written for James McDonald in 2019. Check out the latest news below for more on his current fantasy value.
$Signed a one-year, $1 million contract with the Cubs in January of 2014.
PFree Agent  
Shoulder
October 29, 2014
McDonald has elected free agency, Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune reports.
ANALYSIS
McDonald missed the entire 2014 season after dealing with shoulder soreness and tendinitis during spring training. He has a 4.20 ERA in his big league career, working as both a starter and reliever.
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McDonald signed a minor league deal with the Cubs last January, but thanks to shoulder tendinitis that first surfaced in March, he missed the entire season. Though he won 12 games and struck out 151 for the Pirates in 2012, that seems like a long time ago. The 30-year-old right-hander is a free agent, but someone will probably throw a dart and invite him to spring training. You can save your darts for someone else.
A shoulder injury limited McDonald to just six major league starts last season and effectively ended his tenure in Pittsburgh. The 29-year-old has struggled with his command throughout his career (4.1 BB/9), and he doesn't have overpowering stuff, so he'll likely have to bide his time at Triple-A to begin the year.
McDonald forgot how to count victories after the All-Star break in 2012. The right-hander went from being a blooming star with a devastating new slider to a thrower who unable to find the strike zone -- and when he did, bad things happened. For the first three-plus months, J-Mac fashioned a 2.37 ERA and 100:31 K:BB ratio in 17 starts and 110 innings. Something happened on the way to baseball heaven, however. His final 13 games saw McDonald struggle to a 7.52 ERA and 51:38 K:BB ratio in 61 frames, culminating in his removal from the rotation. The key to a possible 2013 turnaround lies between his ears. Taking a flier on McDonald as a late-round pick might be the best way to go about handling the hurler.
McDonald likely offers the most potential of any Pirates starting pitcher. He led the team with 142 strikeouts in 171 innings, throwing a nasty 12-to-6 curveball that freezes hitters in their tracks. His overall numbers -- 4.21 ERA and 1.485 WHIP -- were offset by a spring training oblique injury. From the middle of May, McDonald registered a 3.59 ERA in 23 starts and 130.1 innings. He still has numerous flaws, however, as the right-hander lasted seven innings or longer just two times. He also has a tendency to allow the long ball (24 homers). Still, his strikeout numbers suggest he has upside. If McDonald can balance his home/road ERA (3.19/5.42) splits better, there's a chance he breaks out. Otherwise, he makes for a fine spot starter when he goes at PNC Park.
The term "heist" best defines what Pirates GM Neal Huntington pulled on the Dodgers when he landed both McDonald and prospect Andrew Lambo for Octavio Dotel last summer. McDonald never made the most of his limited opportunities he was given in Los Angeles, but he sure looked comfortable at PNC Park. After coming over in the trade, McDonald compiled a 3.52 ERA with the Bucs, including a home earned run average of 2.91 in 34 innings. A year ago, it looked like his career was trending toward relief work, but now he enters the 2011 campaign with an opportunity to become the ace of the staff. His ability to pinpoint his low/mid-90s fastball and keep his curveball low in the strike zone will go a long ways toward determining whether he can achieve that goal. It might be wise to consider picking him up late, especially considering his strikeout potential -- he had 61 strikeouts in 64 innings with the Pirates down the stretch last season.
Spending the majority of the season in the bullpen, McDonald finished with a 4.00 ERA and 54:34 K:BB in 60 innings. As a reliever, the numbers were far more impressive - 2.72 ERA, 48:20 K:BB in 49.2 innings. He'll fight for a rotation spot this spring along with Scott Elbert, and others, with the winner of the battle worth a roster spot in deeper leagues. McDonald has some fantasy upside with his strikeout ability, but get interested only if he is starting games.
McDonald, the organization's minor league pitcher of the year, went 7-4 with a 3.26 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) combined for Double-A Jacksonville and Triple-A Las Vegas this season and tossed six innings of scoreless relief for the Dodgers. McDonald struck out 141 minor league batters in 141 innings, though his fastball doesn't light up the radar gun. McDonald could contend for a rotation spot this spring, but it seems more likely he'll be the first guy up from Triple-A when an injury strikes. He has the upside of a No. 3 starter.
After a season in which he was named the organization's minor league pitcher of the year, McDonald was added to the 40-man roster for the first time. Between High-A and Double-A, McDonald went 13-9 with a 3.07 ERA and a solid 168:37 K:BB in 134.2 innings (that's an 11.2 K/9 rate). He was even better (1.71 ERA) in Double-A upon his promotion and seems likely to get a big league look sometime in 2008. Not bad for a guy who began his career in the organization as an outfielder.
More Fantasy News
PChicago Cubs  
Shoulder
March 31, 2014
McDonald (shoulder) will start the year on the 60-day disabled list, the Cubs' official site reports.
ANALYSIS
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PChicago Cubs  
Shoulder
March 20, 2014
McDonald (shoulder) could play catch Friday, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports.
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PChicago Cubs  
Shoulder
March 18, 2014
McDonald is dealing with shoulder tendinitis, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports.
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PChicago Cubs  
Shoulder
March 17, 2014
McDonald, who was removed from Monday's spring start after just two pitches, is dealing with shoulder soreness, Carrie Muskat of MLB.com reports.
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PChicago Cubs  
March 1, 2014
Making his spring debut for the Cubs on Friday, McDonald gave up three hits, three walks, and six runs in just one inning.
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