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6/8/1989 (27 y, 8 m, 18 d)
2012 Rule 5 Draft - Round: , Pick: 12, Overall: 12, Team: Baltimore Orioles
$0.7M / 1 Years (2017)
McFarland cleared outright waivers Friday and will now be placed on release waivers, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. (2/25/2017)
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(Click Year to Expand /
A Rule 5 pick in 2013, T.J. McFarland spent the majority of the season coming out of the bullpen for the Orioles. He had moderate success there, posting a 4.22 ERA, but a winter league stint as a starter indicates he could get a chance at the number five job in spring training. While he didn’t strike many batters out, the 24-year-old posted an excellent ground-ball rate (57.8%), an important trait to have in Camden. With no platoon edge on lefties and little in the way of velocity, it’s tough to see McFarland’s long-term role, but perhaps he holds value as a swingman or long man for Baltimore. He’s unlikely to hold value for fantasy owners in any role, though, as the lack of strikeouts limits any potential ERA breakout. (
The Quick Opinion:
A successful Rule 5 selection, T.J. McFarland could get the chance to win a starting job in 2014. The ground balls are encouraging, but a complete lack of strikeout ability renders him a low-upside fantasy play.
McFarland is basically a knuckleballer without the knuckleball. He throws primarily one pitch -- his 90 mph sinker -- and he generates almost no strikeouts and almost infinity ground balls. The former Rule 5 pick never really pitched relief before landing on the Oriole's major league roster, so it's not inconceivable the birds might try him in the rotation again at some point. His 2014 success (a 71 ERA- across 58.2 IP) may lend extra credibility to the notion that a modern starting pitcher can survive with a strikeout rate under 15%. If they decide to keep him in the bullpen, he'll likely continue to be a powerful situational weapon, nabbing key double plays with his absurd 60% ground-ball rate. But that also means he's in a tricky spot fantasy-wise -- neither a closer prospect nor a surefire starter candidate. Add in the lack of strikeouts, and McFarland makes for the rare excellent pitcher, poor fantasy player. (
The Quick Opinion:
He may start for the Orioles; he may play ground-ball ace reliever. Either way, his limited strikeouts and iffy potential in either role means McFarland is a real-life treasure with a limited fantasy-life appeal. Only look for him to fill out your pitcher bench if you think he'll start or close.
Operating exclusively as a reliever during his time in the bigs in 2015, McFarland somehow improved on his already stellar ground ball rate, posting a 64.3% mark. For those keeping score at home, that was good enough for eighth best in Major League Baseball (among relievers with at least 40 innings). Unfortunately, McFarland isn't tremendously adept at missing bats, posting mediocre 7.1% swinging strike rate and 14% strikeout rate marks. The velocity on his sinker ticked up a tad, likely due to working in short relief bursts compared to longer outings in 2014 (although he still made nine starts at Triple-A). While the team seemingly hasn't quite given up on him as a starter, signs continue to point to long-term bullpen usage. While that might make his double-play-ways a positive in real life, it doesn't lend itself to tremendous fantasy value. Unless he somehow breaks camp in the rotation, he probably shouldn't be drafted in the vast majority of fantasy leagues. (
The Quick Opinion:
T.J. McFarland A) gets ground balls and B) seems to be fine with riding the Triple-A/MLB shuttle. More valuable in real life than fantasy, McFarland's likely middle relief role and mediocre rates mean he's unlikely to see big ownership numbers on fantasy rosters (for good reason).
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Updated: Sunday, February 26, 2017 3:33 AM ET
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