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2018 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews # 13, TJ McFarland

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“He’s had a tremendous year.”

Alex Avila and TJ McFarlanda
Alex Avila and TJ McFarland
Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

2018 rating: 6.36

2017 rating: 4.62

2018 salary: $850,000, Arb-1

2018 performance: 2.00 ERA (FIP 3.63), 72 IP, 64 H, 18 R, 16 ER, 4 HR, 22 BB, 42 SO

2019 status: He is on the D-backs 40-man roster, and he is projected to be on the 25-man roster in the bullpen.

He is a D-back because of a disappointing season.

In 2016, TJ McFarland had a very disappointing 24.2 innings (ERA 6.75, FIP 5.62, hits-per-9 12.0, HR-per-9 1.1, SO-per-9 2.6). In the offseason, despite his options the Orioles released him and the D-backs signed him to a minor league contract.

In 2017, he was quickly promoted and he was great the through the end of July. He regressed in the last two months of the season.

”He’s had a tremendous year.” –Torey Lovullo

He is a long relief pitcher. Twice in April he showed why he is among the best relievers in the Majors. Against the Dodgers and the Nationals, the D-back’s starting pitcher left the game much too early (after 2 innings and after 1.1 innings). Without time to prepare mentally, he entered the games.

  • Against the Dodgers, although he faced 3 batters the day before, he pitched 4.0 innings with zero earned runs. Extremely impressive! The D-backs won the game!
  • Against the Nationals, although he had faced 8 batters three days prior, he pitched 4.2 innings with only 2 earned runs. He gave the D-backs real chances to win that game.

He is more than a long relief pitcher. “McFarland’s versatility was a huge plus, as he was used at times in long relief and at times in shorter outings to match up with left-handed hitters.” – Steve Gilbert

How does he compare to other D-back pitchers?

  • Let’s look at ERAs of D-back pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched. Jimmie Sherfy ranked first (1.65 ERA in 16.3 innings), and TJ McFarland ranked second (2.00 ERA in 72.0 innings).
  • The other left-handed pitcher in the bullpen, Andrew Chafin, ranked fifth in ERA (3.10 ERA in 49.1 innings).

TJ McFarland earned a nickname, McERA.

How do TJ McFarland and Andrew Chafin compare?

Let’s compare these two lefties in the bullpen.

2018 Comparison of TJ McFarland and Andrew Chafin

Statistic TJ McFarland Andrew Chafin
Statistic TJ McFarland Andrew Chafin
WPA (Fangraphs) 0.91 -0.88
bWAR 1.6 0.9
ERA/(Dbacks rank) 2.00(second) 3.1(fifth)
Walks per 9 innings 2.8 4.6
Strikeouts per 9 innings 5.3 9.7
Inning per Appearance 1.53 0.64
Ground Ball % 68.4 51.1
Average Launch Angle in degrees negative 2.1 positive 5.6
Line Drive % 17.5 28.2
Sources: Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Statcast

The table shows TJ McFarland compared favorably to Andrew Chafin. Most remarkable is the difference in WPA. Jack Sommers wrote about the impact of performance in high leverage game situations. TJ McFarland had the better bWAR, ERA, walks per 9 innings, and line drive rate. McFarland had a better ground ball rate because he has a lower average launch angle.

College Degree in May

Two Diamondbacks have earned a degree at University of Phoenix.

Martin Bater, MLB.com, wrote about McFarland’s graduation:

In June, TJ McFarland earned a degree in business management. His parents surprised him by flying to Phoenix for his graduation.

”Happy graduation, buddy!” said Tim, his dad, who was beaming with pride and a smile from ear to ear.

”Just thank you, thank you so much. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am without your support [referring to his family, including his wife Jenna],” said TJ McFarland .

“I think it was always hard, especially in the beginning with all the traveling and everything being new for him,” said Jenna.

And do you know the name of the other scholastic D-back? Paul Goldschmidt.

Injury in September

On September 8th TJ McFarland pitched against the Braves. The next morning, he reported discomfort in his elbow. His left elbow was examined by team physician Gary Waslewski.

An MRI showed a bone spur. He wanted to pitch, but instead a decision was made to shut him down for the rest of the season.

”He has some inflammation around that bone spur and we just felt like the risk did not match the reward.” -- Torey Lovullo

He will almost certainly be healed and pitching at 100% before start of spring training.

Arbitration

The D-backs tendered TJ McFarland. It would not surprise me if the D-backs negotiate a two year contract with TJ McFarland. He is expected to earn about $1.4 Million. That is a great bargain because he had a tremendous year and he is among the better relievers in the Majors.