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2021 Arizona Diamondbacks Reviews, #46: Jake Faria

Yet another pitcher that tries to find a way back into the majors.

Chicago Cubs v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images
  • Rating: 2.64
  • Age: 28 (since July 30)
  • 2021 Stats: 23G (3GS), 32.2 IP, 5.51 ERA, 4.58 FIP, 1.592 WHIP, 32:13 K/BB, 78 ERA+
  • 2021 Earnings: $282,164 (via Spotrac)
  • 2022 Status: Elected free agency in September after being outrighted.

Introduction

The man we are writing about has been around for already quite some time: Jacob Faria was drafted out of a California high school by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2011 in the 10th round, just a month before the starting pitcher would turn 18.

His transaction to pro baseball was very smooth. He had an exemplary career in the Tampa Bay minors but seemed to have been pretty much overlooked by most media outlets. Fangraphs, for example, doesn’t mention him until 2017 in their Rays farm rankings when they rank young Jacob 15th with a 40 FV.

That year he pitches well enough in Triple A to get an early callup to the Rays roster. His debut on June 7 against the Chicago White Sox is great: he pitches 6.1 innings while allowing just 1 run and leads Tampa Bay to a 3-1 win. The 2017 Rays end the season 80-82 and Jake Faria is Tampa’s best starting pitcher that season if we look at his 123 ERA+, better than well-known hurlers like Blake Snell, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Alex Cobb.

Faria is a lock to start in Tampa Bay’s 2018 starting rotation, but already early in the season it is obvious that AL East teams have gotten a good look at the right-hander: Boston tags him with 12 runs in 3 games (8.1 innings), Baltimore with 11 runs in 2 games (10.1 innings). End May Faria is optioned back to the minors and only returns as a reliever late in the season.

In 2019 he doesn’t fare much better and end July he is included in a 1 to 1 player swap with the Milwaukee Brewers, sending first baseman Jesus Aguilar the other way. His performance that season takes an even deeper dive with the Brew Crew. Although he sticks around for the 2020 season with them, he makes no return to the majors and is released by the end of the season.

Come the 2021 season the Los Angeles Angels sign Jacob Faria in December 2020 to a minor league contract with Spring Training invite.

2021 review

Faria arrives in Arizona in June 2021 when the Diamondbacks are already a dumpster fire. Every human being that is able to throw a ball somewhere between 85-92 mph with a probability of it ending up in the strike zone can realistically make an appearance for the D-Backs. Luke Weaver was on the IL, Bumgarner was on the IL, Frankoff was on the IL, Duplantier and Clarke were on the IL and optioned to Reno, Mella was designated for assignment, Castellanos had been optioned back to Reno, Gallen just returned from the IL..., you get it: the pitching situation was a total mess and Jake Faria was an arm that had just become available on the free agent market and was signed on June 19.

His arrival was not one as a cast-off who had been designated for assignment. The Los Angeles Angels wanted to keep him but hadn’t called him up yet. “I had an opt-out on June 1. I was throwing well by (Triple-A West) standards and decided to push it back by two weeks to see how it went. When it came to the 15th of June, I decided to pursue other opportunities.”

Thus said this article on an internet website about the signing of Jacob Faria for the Arizona Diamondbacks. MLB Trade Rumors wrote that Faria’s arrival on the 40-man roster came at the expense of Ildemaro Vargas and in that same article they make a reference to the subpar homerun and walk rates of Faria.

Those stats, however, were kept under control by Faria during his stint in Arizona. He would end up making 23 appearances for the Diamondbacks and, like many others on the roster, was especially punished by the Giants’ and Dodgers’ batsmen who tagged him with 16 runs of the total 21 runs he would give up in Sedona red.

The final 2 of those came on September 14 in a relief appearance against the Dodgers. After that appearance Faria was designated for assignment, cleared waivers and chose free agency.

2022 outlook

Faria is still just 28 years old and with margin to improve. His stuff has worked before in the minors and in his first year in the MLB, but it is taking him time to adjust again. His BB%, K%, HR%, GB%, LD% and HardHit% were close to his 2017 season stats. The velocity of his pitches has increased as well, but that shouldn’t be too surprising since he is now pitching in a reliever role instead of the starter he was back in 2017. But Faria was still too hittable in 2021, which is proven by his poor performances against the top NL West teams.

He wasn’t really pitching that bad until he encountered real quality opponents. That sounds like the famous dead horse flogging and although the Diamondbacks didn’t really benefit from his performance, Faria might look at his stats with more optimism.

The problem for Faria is basically his 4FB on which opponents feasted and which is ranked poorly by statcast in both speed and spin. The XWOBA for that pitch in 2021 was .420 which is obviously a problem, but his other pitches (curve, slider, splitter) worked well. So it is clear where he needs to improve and if he is able to do that, he might find success again as a major league pitcher. Although Faria prefers a starting role, perhaps it is better to just focus entirely on a reliever role and try to add some extra velocity to his fastball.

Getting back to the majors will have to be achieved via a minor league contract and Jake Faria should have no problem to get one of those given his age and track record until 2018.