What Makes You Think T.J. McFarland Should Start?

T.J. McFarlandIt seems like every time T.J. McFarland comes into a game, Twitter explodes with “this guy should be given a chance to start” tweets. Maybe I’m missing something, but I just don’t see it.

On Sunday, McFarland helped save the bullpen after an abysmal 2.1 innings pitched from starter Freddy Garcia. However, he still surrendered five earned runs over the 4.1 innings he took over.

In 41.1 innings pitched this season, McFarland has pitched to a 4.14 ERA. Admittedly, ERA is a lousy way to judge a relief pitcher, the most appropriate statistic to judge him on would be his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play and timing were league average. McFarland’s 3.82 FIP makes him a slightly above average pitcher. My favorite part of McFarland’s game is his 2.57 K/BB, but his 1.403 WHIP worries me about his chances as a starter.

One of the most important parts of starting pitching is a guy’s effectiveness against opponents that have already faced him in the same game. McFarland hasn’t pitched three times through any lineup this season, though to be fair neither have many Orioles starters. The first time through the lineup this season, McFarland has kept hitters to a .254/.312/.385 slash, the second time that balloons up to a .297/.341/.486 line.

High leverage situations also haven’t been kind to him. With runners in scoring position, opponents are hitting .298/.382/.532 with a .914 OPS. McFarland’s K/BB dips to 0.57 is those situations.

According to his player card on BrooksBaseball.net, McFarland relies primarily on his sinker at 88 MPH and his slider at 79 MPH. He mixes in a fourseam fastball at 88 MPH and a changeup at 82 MPH. Right now, it’s best to leave him in long relief. Perhaps down the road his stuff will translate to a starter’s role.

Zach Wilt is the Founding Editor of BaltimoreSportsReport.com and host of the BSR Podcast. He's a loyal Orioles, Ravens and Capitals fan who is obsessed with baseball, loves traveling, In-N-Out Burger and Walt Disney World.


  1. birdman_61

    June 24, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I don’t think he has bullpen stuff either. He pitched well for 2 games and ok for a third. Prior to that he wasn’t pitching well and only made the team because he was rule 5 and didn’t earn the job out of camp. I know the Orioles like him but I think he’s very highly overrated.

  2. birdman_61

    June 24, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I’m with you Zach, Orioles fans have a penchant for these borderline players, McFarland, Steve Johnson, Joe Orsulak. They somehow view them as gamers, I view them as marginal players who are stopgaps.

  3. MGW

    June 24, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Bird, if he was a righty pitching the way he has, he would have warranted the roster spot, but these lefties can write their own checks, most of the time.

  4. Willo

    June 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

    My question and it is a rhetorical one…would TJ have made the 25 man squad if he were not a rule 5 guy?

  5. spy

    June 25, 2013 at 9:02 am

    The O’s ‘rule 5 ‘picks rarely turn out decent , here are the past five rule 5 picks for the past four years,,,,,,,,,,,,,,TJ McFarland , Ryan Flaherty , Adrian Rosario , Pat Egan , Tom Boleska,,,,,,,,,,,,,not exactly house hold names we have here,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,turns out the O’s can’t pickem in any draft very well………………..other then the law of large numbers , the O’s are usually doomed in any draft…………………..

  6. Avi Miller

    June 26, 2013 at 9:17 am

    Spy, not sure where you got that info from about our past picks…both Egan was a draft pick by the Orioles…he was selected by the Brewers in the Rule 5 draft in 2012, but was returned to the Orioles before the end of Spring Training. As for Boleska, he was selected in the AAA phase, which is completely different from where we got McFarland and Flaherty.

    • spy

      June 26, 2013 at 10:22 am

      Mike Preston told me the same time he told me the O’s don’t know how to run a successful franchise , he was shooting from the hip on the spur of the moment , mistakes happen , deal with it……………….the point was made and still is the same , the O’s mishandle players more often than not………………………want proof , look at the previous fourteen years……………………