Tag Archive | "T.J McFarland"

britton

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Orioles continue rolling despite June rotation struggles

Posted on 25 June 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles have played their best baseball of the season over the last three weeks.

Having won 15 of their last 20, Baltimore returns home Friday with a 38-34 record, one game better than the club was through 72 games last year. After a nightmarish May, the Orioles lineup has averaged 5.9 runs per game and outscored opponents by a 118-69 margin in the last 20 games.

The bullpen continues to excel with a 2.08 ERA in 164 2/3 innings dating back to April 29, but Thursday’s 8-6 win over Boston offered a tiny glimpse into what has to be a lingering concern in manager Buck Showalter’s mind despite his club’s recent success.

Returning from the 15-day disabled list on Thursday, Miguel Gonzalez lasted just five innings and allowed four earned runs and eight hits while laboring to hold the comfortable 6-1 lead he was presented in the fourth inning. It would have been unfair to expect too much from the right-hander in his first start for the Orioles since June 9, but it was the 14th time in the last 20 games in which a starting pitcher has failed to complete six innings. The Orioles have received only one start of seven or more innings over that time, which was Wei-Yin Chen’s eight shutout innings against Philadelphia on June 15.

Showalter told reporters following Thursday’s game that he needed to rest Darren O’Day, Chaz Roe, and Brad Brach, leaving him to use T.J. McFarland and Tommy Hunter to bridge the gap to Zach Britton. It worked out for the Orioles as they won their sixth consecutive series, but not before the left-handed closer was working in his fourth game in six days to pick up his 21st save of the season.

The bullpen continues to be terrific, but the starting rotation must get deeper into games if Showalter wants to keep his relievers fresh for the second half. In 23 June games, starters have posted a 4.58 ERA and are averaging just 5.22 innings per outing while the bullpen has posted a miniscule 1.80 ERA.

In 2014, the starting rotation pitched to a mediocre 4.49 ERA in April and May before taking off in June with a 3.47 mark and posting an exceptional 2.98 ERA in the second half of the season.

Gonzalez, Chen, and Ubaldo Jimenez have performed well enough this season to feel confident in the trio moving forward, but Chris Tillman is having the worst season of his career thus far and Bud Norris still can’t avoid the big inning as we witnessed again in Wednesday’s loss to the Red Sox. Every time either of the two struggles, there is a growing temptation to turn to Kevin Gausman, who pitched to a 3.57 ERA in 20 starts last season and is the most talented hurler in the organization.

For now, the Orioles continue to benefit from a swinging-door spot in the bullpen that’s been filled by the likes of McFarland, Tyler Wilson, Oliver Drake, and Mychal Givens at various points to give their most reliable arms a breather when possible. But such a luxury would disappear if they’re forced to move either Norris or Tillman to a long relief role since neither pitcher has a minor-league option.

The results of the last three weeks remind us of last year when the Orioles took off in the second half of the season to win their first American League East championship in 17 years. Their offense has come alive, the defense has been excellent, and the bullpen has dominated for two months now.

If the starting rotation can step up like it did right around this time a year ago — at least closer to that  2014 level — the Orioles will not only take off, but they’ll become the clear favorite in the AL East.

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Orioles recall McFarland; Jones sits again on Wednesday

Posted on 24 June 2015 by Luke Jones

The Orioles tinkered with their bullpen yet again prior to Wednesday’s game in Boston by recalling left-handed pitcher T.J. McFarland and optioning right-hander Oliver Drake to Triple-A Norfolk.

After spending the required 10 days with the Tides upon being sent down on June 14, McFarland brings more length to a bullpen that’s worked hard in recent weeks. Drake was recalled from Norfolk on Sunday but did not appear in a game in his latest stint with the Orioles.

McFarland sports a 1.93 ERA in 9 1/3 innings for the Orioles this season, but that mark is deceiving as the 26-year-old southpaw has allowed 12 hits and issued eight walks, numbers that have earned him a 4.71 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) mark. The former Rule 5 pick settled into a long relief role last season while posting a 2.76 ERA in 58 2/3 innings of work, but his control issues have been problematic in 2015.

The Orioles will need to make another roster move on Thursday with starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez scheduled to return from the disabled list to start against the Red Sox. Right-handed pitcher Mychal Givens is expected to be sent back to the minors to make room, returning Baltimore to its normal seven-man bullpen.

As anticipated, center fielder Adam Jones was out of the lineup for the sixth time in eight games on Wednesday with David Lough once again replacing him in center field.

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Orioles thoughts on pitching and outfield situation

Posted on 15 June 2015 by Luke Jones

Sunday was a forgettable day for Orioles rookie Mike Wright, but manager Buck Showalter was correct in pointing out the starting pitcher experienced some tough luck, especially early in the game.

The 25-year-old gave up a number of hits that weren’t exactly tattooed by the Yankees, but the biggest problem for Wright has been his inability to put hitters away — New York fouled off 13 pitches with two strikes in his four-plus innings of work — which often leads to a pitcher making a mistake. This not only drives up the pitch count, but it puts more pressure on the pitcher as Wright crumbled in the top of the fifth walking three straight hitters to conclude his afternoon.

His mid-90s fastball certainly plays at the major league level, but Wright’s slider and changeup haven’t been impressive, making you wonder if he’ll have the stuff to make it as a starting pitcher in the long run. I’m not ready to give up on the idea of Wright as a major league starter, but I do think his fastball could be very tough to handle in a late-inning relief role in which he’s only working an inning or so at a time. It wouldn’t be difficult seeing Wright eventually stepping into the role occupied by Tommy Hunter, who is a free agent at the end of the 2015 season.

Either way, Wright has work to do to improve his secondary stuff.

* I have no idea how long outfielder Nolan Reimold can continue this, but he’s provided a nice lift in his first week back with the Orioles.

I never doubted the 31-year-old’s ability early in his career, but you had to wonder whether the talent would still be there after two serious neck injuries in 2012 and 2013. Acknowledging it’s only been a handful of games, we’ve seen the combination of power, speed, and defensive ability that had the Orioles and their fans salivating about his potential years ago.

You can only cross your fingers that a guy who’s had terrible luck with injuries can stay healthy and the Orioles shouldn’t assume that he can stay on the field for the long haul, but Showalter should pencil his name into the starting lineup every day until there’s a reason not to.

* Speaking of outfielders, you probably wouldn’t have been surprised if I’d told you in February that Travis Snider would be hitting .252 in his first 150 plate appearances for the Orioles, but his lack of power has been startling.

After hitting nine home runs and slugging .524 in the second half for Pittsburgh last year, the Orioles hoped they were getting a 27-year-old and former first-round pick who was finally blooming at the plate after years of struggles, but Snider is slugging a career-low .326 with just one homer and seven extra-base hits and rarely makes sharp contact or shows the ability to drive the ball. In contrast, ex-Oriole Nick Markakis has a higher slugging percentage at .367 — still a poor mark — despite not yet hitting a home run for Atlanta this season.

You have to wonder if Snider is running out of chances as the Orioles desperately need an effective lefty-hitting outfielder and Chris Parmelee is producing at Triple-A Norfolk.

* The Orioles hope to see Bud Norris improve enough to finish out the season in the starting rotation, but I wouldn’t be keen on the idea of re-signing him this winter.

A club will likely overpay for the right-hander based on his 2014 season, but Norris hasn’t been able to duplicate his success against left-handed hitters this season. Relying on an effective changeup to hold lefties to a .255 average and .753 on-base plus slugging percentage in 2014, Norris has been lit up by lefty bats this season to the tune of a 1.035 OPS as he’s been unable to command the off-speed pitch as effectively.

Norris has always handled right-handed hitters, but his problems against lefties have plagued him for most of his career, which is the biggest reason why he’s been nothing more than an average starting pitcher other than last season. In reality, he’d probably be better suited for the bullpen on a competitive club, but Norris would hardly embrace such a role in a contract year.

* You get the sense that Showalter is beginning to use Delmon Young more and more like he did last season, which isn’t a bad thing for the Orioles.

Young has shown little power (a .358 slugging percentage), but he does sport a .327 average against left-handed pitching, making him an obvious start against southpaws. It was interesting to see David Lough hit for Young against right-hander Sergio Santos on Saturday night — Showalter said he wanted to give the young outfielder an at-bat even though the Orioles only led by three runs at the time — and then Matt Wieters was sent to the plate in Young’s place to face Dellin Betances in the ninth inning on Sunday.

It would be helpful if Dan Duquette could at least find an effective platoon partner for Young for the rest of the season.

* With southpaws Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland both struggling to throw strikes this season, the Orioles are hoping that Wesley Wright can settle into the lefty specialist role upon completing his minor-league rehab assignment.

On the disabled list since the first week of the season with a left trapezius strain, Wright is expected to join an affiliate any day now and could make Matusz expendable if he proves he’s healthy and can throw strikes.

* Adam Jones is a four-time Gold Glove center fielder and certainly doesn’t need validation, but there have been a couple points in his career when he was probably a little overrated as a defender.

But strictly going off the eyeball test — his fielding metrics have been good, for what it’s worth — Jones has never played better defense than what we’ve seen from him this year. The 29-year-old has not only been steady and consistent, but he’s made countless sensational plays — just ask the Boston Red Sox about last week’s series — running down balls in the gap or making exceptional throws to gun down runners trying to take an extra base.

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Orioles recall Wilson to reinforce burdened bullpen

Posted on 14 June 2015 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — Needing to reinforce a bullpen that’s carried a heavy load over the last week, the Orioles recalled right-handed pitcher Tyler Wilson prior to Sunday’s series finale with the New York Yankees.

Despite winning six straight games to move back over the .500 mark, the Orioles have gone seven consecutive games without a starting pitcher completing six innings, which has placed a great burden on the bullpen. Orioles relievers have more than been up to the task — allowing only one run in 19 1/3 innings in the first five games of the current homestand — but manager Buck Showalter can’t continue to ask his bullpen to pitch roughly four innings per contest if he wants the group to remain effective.

To make room for Wilson on the 25-man roster, the Orioles optioned lefty reliever T.J. McFarland to Triple-A Norfolk. McFarland had pitched on Friday and Saturday and has been struggling with his command, allowing eight walks in 9 1/3 innings with Baltimore this season. Showalter wants to see the 26-year-old work out of the bullpen with the Tides, focusing on entering in the middle of innings with runners on base.

“We want to get him in the bullpen there and simulating situations he’s coming into here in the middle of an inning,” said Showalter, who added that McFarland is also dropping down to the side too much with his arm slot. “He’s had a little problem in the middle of an inning compared to starting an inning. I think some of that’s our fault.”

On the surface, McFarland’s 1.93 ERA suggests his performance has been strong, but walking 7.7 hitters per nine innings and a 2.14 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched) tell the real story of how he’s fared this season.

Left-hander Brian Matusz also rejoined the bullpen Sunday after serving the final game of his suspension on Saturday night. With rookie Mike Wright starting the series finale, the Orioles maintained a seven-man bullpen with Wilson and Matusz replacing Wright and McFarland.

In three appearances for the Orioles earlier this season, Wilson posted a 3.38 ERA in eight innings. His one start in Baltimore came on May 28 when he allowed two runs in six innings of work in a 3-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

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chaz

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Orioles call up right-hander Roe for additional bullpen help

Posted on 24 May 2015 by Luke Jones

Feeling the effects of Thursday’s rain delay, a short start from Ubaldo Jimenez on Friday, and Saturday night’s 13-inning affair, the Orioles have again turned to Triple-A Norfolk for bullpen help.

Prior to Sunday’s finale against the Miami Marlins, the Orioles selected the contract of right-handed pitcher Chaz Roe and optioned lefty T.J. McFarland to the Tides. To make room for Roe on the 40-man roster, the Orioles transferred left-handed reliever Wesley Wright to the 60-day disabled list.

The 28-year-old Roe carries some major league experience, posting a 4.03 ERA in 21 appearances for Arizona in 2013 and making three appearances for the New York Yankees last season. He was 3-1 with a 2.19 ERA in 24 2/3 innings for the Tides this season.

McFarland gave up the winning run in Saturday’s 1-0 loss and had appeared in three of Baltimore’s last four games, but many figured rookie Oliver Drake would be optioned after throwing three innings in Saturday’s game. Of course, the Naval Academy product’s impressive performance may have forced manager Buck Showalter’s hand in keeping him around for the time being.

With Thursday’s doubleheader, the Orioles will need an additional starter, which could be McFarland or Bud Norris, who is currently on the 15-day DL and slated to pitch at Double-A Bowie on Wednesday. Of course, Norris’ disastrous start for Norfolk on Friday doesn’t inspire much confidence in him as he was already off to a nightmarish start in 2015.

In other pitching news, left-hander Brian Matusz is expected to receive a suspension — likely in line with the eight-game ban Milwaukee pitcher Will Smith recently received — after being ejected from Saturday’s game for having a foreign substance on his arm. However, no word is expected to come until after the holiday weekend.

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Orioles add Matusz, subtract Jimenez as only change for ALCS roster

Posted on 10 October 2014 by Luke Jones

On the morning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series, the Orioles announced their series roster with only one change made from the 25-man group they fielded against the Detroit Tigers in the first round.

Lefty reliever Brian Matusz was added to the bullpen while right-handed pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez was subtracted as the Orioles will meet the Kansas City Royals for the first time ever in the postseason. With Kansas City sporting a regular lineup that includes four left-handed hitters, Matusz could potentially see some situational opportunities after being left off the AL Division Series roster due to the Tigers’ ability to feast on left-handed pitching.

The Orioles had been considering adding left-handed long reliever T.J. McFarland to their ALCS roster before once again electing to keep 14 position players, including both Kelly Johnson and Jimmy Paredes. The decision does leave the Orioles without a great deal of length in their bullpen should they want to use right-hander Kevin Gausman in high-leverage situations.

Jimenez did not appear in the ALDS after his inclusion on the roster surprised many observers.

As manager Buck Showalter confirmed on Thursday, infielder Chris Davis was left off the ALCS roster since he has five games remaining on his 25-game ban for amphetamine use. Davis rejoined the club for the ALCS workout day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Thursday and is now allowed to be with the Orioles while waiting for his suspension to expire.

If there’s a postponement Friday night, the Orioles and Royals may resubmit rosters as the prospects of playing five straight days would certainly change starting pitching plans. However, if they start Friday’s game and it’s suspended due to rain, teams may not alter their rosters.

Below is the ALCS roster, which can be altered should the Orioles advance to their first World Series in 31 years.

CATCHERS
Nick Hundley (R)
Caleb Joseph (R)

INFIELDERS
Ryan Flaherty (L)
J.J. Hardy (R)
Kelly Johnson (L)
Jimmy Paredes (S)
Steve Pearce (R)
Jonathan Schoop (R)

OUTFIELDERS
Nelson Cruz (R)
Alejandro De Aza (L)
Adam Jones (R)
David Lough (L)
Nick Markakis (L)
Delmon Young (R)

STARTING PITCHERS
LHP Wei-Yin Chen
RHP Miguel Gonzalez
RHP Bud Norris
RHP Chris Tillman

RELIEF PITCHERS
RHP Brad Brach
LHP Zach Britton
RHP Kevin Gausman
RHP Tommy Hunter
LHP Brian Matusz
LHP Andrew Miller
RHP Darren O’Day

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Pondering changes to Orioles’ 25-man roster for ALCS

Posted on 07 October 2014 by Luke Jones

With the Orioles advancing to the American League Championship Series to take on the Kansas City Royals, manager Buck Showalter will have the opportunity to reset his 25-man roster before Game 1 on Friday.

For weeks, many have pondered what the Orioles will do when suspended slugger Chris Davis is eligible to return, but the three-game sweep in the AL Division Series made it all but guaranteed he’ll remain on the sideline until a potential trip to the World Series. There had been some thought at the start of the postseason that the Orioles could play a man down to begin the ALCS, but the quick elimination of the Tigers left Davis with five games remaining on his 25-game suspension and he wouldn’t be eligible to play until a potential Game 6.

Davis has continued to work out at third base in Sarasota to stay sharp, but it will be interesting to see if the Orioles automatically welcome him back to the 25-man roster if they advance to the Fall Classic. Working out and playing in instructional league games in Florida are fine, but a layoff of more than a month will inevitably leave some rust and the Orioles might not want to mess with their karma should they find themselves playing for a world championship.

With the Royals regularly using four left-handed hitters in their lineup, Showalter may elect to turn to left-handed relievers Brian Matusz and T.J. McFarland after they were left off the ALDS roster against Detroit, who feasted off southpaw pitching in the regular season. Kansas City hit .266 against left-handers and .261 against right-handed arms, but the presence of lefty hitters Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, and Alex Gordon — right fielder Nori Aoki hit .363 against left-handers this season — would make you think Showalter would prefer having the situational Matusz as an option to pitch to a left-handed hitter or two in certain spots.

Left-handers hit only .223 against Matusz in the regular season while righties hit .277 with an .876 on-base plus slugging percentage.

McFarland’s addition for the ALCS would appear to be less certain as lefties hit .266 against him compared to right-handers posting a .324 average. There wouldn’t appear to be room for both Ubaldo Jimenez and McFarland in the bullpen, so you wonder if Showalter will once again go with the veteran as his emergency long man to keep Kevin Gausman available to pitch in high-leverage situations.

The Orioles kept 11 pitchers for the best-of-five ALDS, but the next round having a best-of-seven format might entice Showalter to add an extra pitcher, leaving him with a shorter bench. Considering Ryan Flaherty played such strong defense at third base, the Orioles manager might not find it necessary to have both Jimmy Paredes and Kelly Johnson on the bench for this series.

The switch-hitting Paredes did not appear in any of the three ALDS games while the lefty-hitting Johnson appeared once as a pinch hitter and replaced Flaherty at third base for the ninth inning of Game 2.

As for the starting rotation, Showalter is expected to send Chris Tillman to the hill for Game 1, but it remains to be seen whether he’ll slot Miguel Gonzalez into Game 2 after he didn’t pitch in the ALDS or the right-hander will once again fit behind Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris in the pecking order.

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Hardy out of Tuesday’s lineup, four more added to Orioles’ expanded roster

Posted on 02 September 2014 by Luke Jones

BALTIMORE — The Orioles began a three-game interleague series with the Cincinnati Reds without the starting shortstop in the starting lineup Tuesday.

After leaving Monday’s loss to the Minnesota Twins with back spasms, J.J. Hardy was on the bench as manager Buck Showalter wanted to give the veteran infielder an extra day to rest. Hardy told reporters following Monday’s game that the spasm did not cause his back to lock up like the one in April that forced him to miss five games.

Infielder Ryan Flaherty was starting at shortstop in place of Hardy against the Reds.

The Orioles continued their roster expansion Tuesday by recalling pitchers T.J. McFarland and Ryan Webb and catcher Steve Clevenger and selecting the contract of Triple-A Norfolk outfielder Quintin Berry. Showalter told reporters prior to Tuesday’s game that he doesn’t anticipate adding any other players unless injuries dictate a need.

While McFarland and Clevenger were recently on the roster before temporarily being optioned, Webb is making his return to the Orioles bullpen for the first time since being optioned on Aug. 1. The acquisition of left-handed pitcher Andrew Miller at the non-waiver trade deadline pushed Webb to the minor leagues where he posted a 4.76 ERA in 11 1/3 innings for the Tides. In 42 2/3 innings for the Orioles this season, the 28-year-old has pitched to a 3.80 ERA.

Berry will provide the Orioles another speedy option off the bench as he batted .285 with 25 stolen bases in 31 attempts in 112 games for Norfolk this season. Including the postseason, Berry is 29-for-29 stealing bases in his major league career, which includes stops in Detroit and Boston.

In order to make room for Berry on the 40-man roster, the Orioles placed third baseman Manny Machado on the 60-day disabled list. The 22-year-old Gold Glove winner underwent season-ending knee surgery last week.

In other injury-related news, first baseman and outfielder Steve Pearce continues to improve after suffering an abdominal strain last week. The Orioles and Pearce are hopeful that he’ll be ready to return this weekend against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg.

After tweaking his leg on his final pitch against the Twins on Monday afternoon, Miller is day to day and may have just experienced a cramp, according to Showalter.

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New Orioles outfielder De Aza reports, McFarland temporarily optioned

Posted on 31 August 2014 by WNST Staff

PRESS RELEASE

The Orioles announced Sunday that OF ALEJANDRO DE AZA, acquired Saturday night, will report to the team today. To make room on the 25-man roster, LHP T.J. McFARLAND has been optioned to Short-Season Class-A Aberdeen.

De Aza, 30, batted .243/.309/.354 (96-395) with five home runs, 31 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 122 games for the White Sox in 2014. He will wear uniform #12.

McFarland, 25, was 4-2 with a 3.10 ERA (52.1IP, 18ER) in 30 games (one start) for the Orioles.

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O’s recall Guilmet, place McFarland on bereavement list

Posted on 28 July 2014 by WNST Staff

Orioles recall RHP Preston Guilmet from Triple-A Norfolk; place LHP T.J. McFarland on bereavement list

The Orioles today announced that they have recalled RHP PRESTON GUILMET from Triple-A Norfolk and placed LHP T.J. McFARLAND on the bereavement list.

Guilmet, 27, has posted a 5.23 ERA (10.1IP, 6ER) in 10 games with the Orioles this season, striking out 12 and walking two.

McFarland, 25, has gone 4-2 with a 3.07 ERA (41.0IP, 14ER) in 23 games (one start) for the Orioles this season.

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