Tonight T.J. McFarland gets a big opportunity. It's his first chance to show the Orioles what he can do as a starting pitcher as he takes the mound against the Yankees.
McFarland is 1-0 with a 4.14 ERA, and the Rule 5 pick has been effective in a long relief role. But he's been a starter most of his minor league career. He made 116 career appearances before this season and 107 were as a starter. Every outing he had the last two years came as a starter, with most of those at Double-A and some at Triple-A.
To me he has what it takes to be a starter, with at least three quality pitches and a changeup that can be effective against right-hander batters to go with a slider for the lefty hitters.
McFarland seems to have plenty of savvy and poise on the mound, and what some scouts call "pitchability." That is the ability to mix several pitches, change speeds and work in and out, up and down, in and around the strike zone.
McFarland has some deception in his delivery that makes the ball hard for hitters to pick up at times. He can get a lot of groundball outs with some sink, and yields a .250 average to lefty batters and .270 to right-handed hitters.
Is tonight just a spot start or are the Orioles considering this as a possible role change? Could Wei-Yen Chen go into this spot in the rotation the next time through?
We don't have all the answers right now on those questions, and it will be interesting to see McFarland on the mound in this big game tonight. If the Orioles didn't feel he was up to it, he wouldn't be getting the ball.
What is your take?: How will McFarland fare tonight? Do you see him as a possible starter now or down the road for the Orioles?
Short outing tonight: The Yankees didn't exactly crush a lot of baseballs against him but they knocked McFarland out tonight in the third inning as they scored twice there to take an early 3-0 lead. McFarland gave up a run in the first and two runs on four singles in the third.
His outing lasted just 2 2/3 innings and allowed seven hits and three runs, throwing 69 pitches in his first big league start.
Kevin Gausman came on in relief and fanned David Adams to get the last out of the top of the third. If Gausman goes on to pitch well - he hasn't been in a game since June 19 with Norfolk - there will be some second guessing of Buck Showalter's decision to go with McFarland over Gausman tonight.