Danny Farquhar: The New Closer
Jul 12, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Danny Farquhar (40) pitches to the Los Angeles Angels during the 8th inning at Safeco Field. Seattle defeated Los Angeles 8-3. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
If anyone had told me that Danny Farquhar would be the best reliever on the Mariners a few years ago I would not believe you, mostly because a few years ago Farquhar was with the Oakland and Toronto AAA teams and I had never heard of him. Even if you had filled me in on what kind of pitcher he was a few years ago I would have laughed at you, mostly because he sucked and was weird. Now Farquhar is the closer and is one of the best relievers in baseball.
The reason Farquhar has shifted from a AAA bullpen arm to a dominant MLB reliever is that he finally settled on an arm slot and has developed a very good cutter and curveball. Originally Farquhar was the weirdest pitcher I had ever heard of. He threw side arm to right-handed batters to make it harder for them to pick up the ball out of his hand. Against left-handed batters he threw over the top, in a more conventional approach, to minimize the platoon splits. He abandoned that awful idea and has developed a cutter and a sharp curve from a consistent arm slot. His cutter is a tough pitch, coming in around 91 and breaking into lefties while looking a lot like his mid-90’s fastball, which tails away from lefties. He has also been able to spot his curveball all over the zone, making a tough job even tougher for hitters.
“But wait a second! Farquhar has an ERA of 4.95, he must suck!”
Well yes, his ERA is abysmal. But that stat isn’t as ugly as it appears. The reason his ERA sucks is that he has had some bad outings, and with relievers having a significantly smaller sample size than starters, ERA’s can get grossly inflated. A better stat than ERA for measuring pitchers’ effectiveness is FIP. Farquhar’s FIP is 1.89, one of the best in the league. He also is striking out 13.62 batters per 9 innings and walking only 3.47 guys per 9 innings. Both beautiful things to see from a closer. Farquhar is becoming very valuable and very effective. Something I didn’t think could happen after he was acquired for an unhappy and aging Ichiro Suzuki.
Simply, Farquhar has been a revelation from a bullpen that has been bad this year. This is something that many people don’t get because of his inflated ERA as well as a BABIP of .363. While it may seem that Farquhar backed into the closer role for the rest of the season with seemingly every potential option (Pryor, Wilhelmsen, Capps, Perez) struggling, he has definitely earned it. And this once again goes to show, that relievers can be found anywhere and why a bullpen is the easiest thing in baseball to fix. But Farquhar should be secure in a job going into next year, and definitely was a steal in exchange for Ichiro. But can we stop calling him Lord Farquhar? He’s not THAT short.