Last night in Baltimore the Rays hit around Orioles lefty T.J. McFarland. Prior to Wednesday’s outing, McFarland had pitched 5 1/3 scoreless innings allowing only two hits. Against Tampa Bay, he surrendered two earned runs on four hits, walked one and struck out three.
I was at the Yard following the action from the stands and was unable to see just how poorly home plate umpire Mark Carlson was calling McFarland’s pitches. Upon returning home, I examined the strikezone plot on BrooksBaseball.net and realized just how unfair it is to judge McFarland on this appearance.
I circled four called balls inside the strikezone of McFarland’s 45 total pitches. The two in the lower left corner are admittedly close and Carlson showed he consistently wasn’t calling anything in that area a strike. However, the other two called balls are perfect pitches.
It may have only be four pitches, but they really tell the story of the his night. McFarland surrendered a walk to Shelly Duncan on one of the balls in the strikezone and a pitch just outside. James Loney’s RBI double came on a 3-1 count that should have been 2-2 after another poor call.
This wasn’t the only time the strikezone came into question on Wednesday. Below is a GIF of a called strike on Manny Machado in the third inning.
Jose Molina is known for framing pitchers better than any catcher in the league, but that pitch was clearly inside on Machado.
PITCHf/x has made it easy for folks like me to question umpires. They’re human and I understand that element of baseball and don’t fault Carlson for the Orioles loss. A combined 1-for-14 from the 6, 7, 8 and 9 hitters had much more to do with it than the home plate umpire.
I merely point out the zone to keep McFarland’s outing in perspective. He’s looked like a nice addition to the O’s bullpen and I thought it was worth noting that it would be unfair to judge his on this particular outing.