Danny Farquhar is only in the majors because the Mariners needed an extra arm for the bullpen after Hector Noesi had to be used as a spot starter because of Aaron Harang‘s aching back. Noesi obviously wasn’t optioned to Taco...
Danny Farquhar is only in the majors because the Mariners needed an extra arm for the bullpen after Hector Noesi had to be used as a spot starter because of Aaron Harang‘s aching back. Noesi obviously wasn’t optioned to Tacoma because they wanted to get him off the team, and he’ll likely be back as soon as he’s fulfilled the 10 day requirement that goes along with getting optioned out. However, Danny Farquhar might have shown enough in his one outing on Saturday to not be the one headed back to Tacoma when Noesi returns.
No, it’s not because he struck out five of the eight guys he faced in low leverage mop-up duty; it’s because of what he was throwing.
That’s a PITCHF/x plot of the 34 pitches Farquhar threw on Saturday. Forget the labels, as there’s basically three pitches there: a bunch of fastballs from 92-96, some cut fastballs from 89-92, and a few curveballs at 79.
Now, here’s a PITCHF/x plot of the 43 pitches Farquhar threw in the Major Leagues back in 2011, when he was a member of the Blue Jays.
There are three pitches there too, but as you can see, they are not the same three pitches. In 2011, he threw a fastball at 88-92, a slider from 80-84, and a single change-up at 79.
And now, here are those two charts overlayed on top of each other, and you see the changes by moving the mouse over or off the image.
Basically, the Farquhar who pitched in Cleveland on Saturday bears no resemblance to the one who pitched in the big leagues with Toronto, besides the fact that it is the same human being, anyway. That Farquhar was a garden variety sinker/slider minor leaguer, a guy who could get some ground balls against right-handers but was otherwise ill equipped to pitch in the majors. If you’ve ever watched a Triple-A game, you’ve seen 100 relievers just like him. This is the kind of pitchers that make up PCL pitching staffs.
The one that pitched for the Mariners on Saturday, though? A totally different guy. The fastball averaged 95, as he’s mostly swapped out his two seam for a harder four seam fastball — note that his fastest fastball in 2011 was still slower than his slowest fastball in 2013 — while the cutter sat at 91, and he mixed in few curveballs just for fun. And the entire delivery is just completely different.
You can see video of him throwing a pitch for Toronto here, then compare that to with Seattle in the second video. And here’s an overlay of his release points, both for 2011 and 2013.
As you can see, the release point has gotten much, much higher, and he’s now releasing at something close to 3/4 rather than side-arm. Basically, he’s gotten more vertical, and his stuff has taken a big leap forward in the process.
Not only is he throwing four or five miles per hour harder, the cut fastball is just a far better second pitch than anything he used to have, and unlike the slider, it’s not a pitch that has a huge platoon split. On Saturday, he threw eight cutters to right-handers and six of them to left-handers, and it was actually more effective against LHBs, getting two called strikes and a swinging strike.
A guy throwing 95 mph four-seam fastballs, mixing in a 91 mph cutter, and throwing the odd 79 mph curve just to throw hitters timing off – that’s not the stuff of some random dude called up from Tacoma to eat some innings in a pinch. Farquhar was destroying the PCL before he got called up, and after seeing what he was throwing, his dominance down there suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Basically, we can take Farquhar’s mediocre track record and almost entirely toss it out the window. You might look at him as a journeyman who pitched for four different Triple-A clubs last year, but there’s no way anyone would have tried to sneak him through waivers throwing what he’s throwing right now. What he showed on Saturday was the kind of stuff that good relief p