What T.J. McFarland is trying to do is certainly not easy. He is trying to stay in the major leagues with the Orioles as a Rule 5 pick and do so with just 17 career starts at the Triple-A level under his belt.
The Orioles felt McFarland had a decent chance to make the opening day roster when they selected him from the Cleveland Indians’ organization at December’s winter meetings.
Now, here he is with an 0-0 record and 2.38 ERA after five games. Over 11 1/3 innings, McFarland has allowed 12 hits with four walks and 14 strikeouts.
He is also trying to pitch well without getting regular work. As a long man out of the bullpen, sometimes he can go several days between outings. He went eight days between his first and second appearances and has thrown just one inning of one game since April 21.
“I am happy with the transition I have been able to make from the minors,” McFarland said recently. “Mentally, I was prepared for it - prepared for seeing superstar status hitters, seeing 40,000 fans screaming. Different environment than I was used to.
“I kind of pride myself in being mentally strong and being able to calm myself down. Not get too high or too low through my career.”
Some scouts believe McFarland has some deception in his delivery, making the ball hard for hitters to pick up coming out of his hand.
“In general, I think any pitcher with deception has an advantage if hitters can’t see the ball well or their timing is off,” he said. “I’ve been told I have deception. I don’t really know how. I think most lefties have some to begin with.
“It is almost whatever you picked up as a kid (with your delivery), you carry it through your career. That little hitch or pause or arm angle, whatever it is, provides that deception.”
With each day in the big leagues, McFarland seems to fit in a little more with the Orioles.
“I think I am beginning to settle in a bit and become real comfortable with the other players and Buck (Showalter) and Rick (Adair). But I know I have to get outs when I go out there,” the 23-year-old lefty said.
McFarland said Showalter and Adair have given him some confidence, but he has to remain upbeat about his pitching, no matter whether they do that or not.
“Every player likes to hear they are doing well, but then again, they are not here to baby us,” McFarland said. “It’s up to us to convince ourselves we are doing well.”