Seattle Mariners right-handed reliever Danny Farquhar had a terrific 2013 season, both in the minors and once he was summoned to the big leagues. Yes, his ERA landed at 4.20, but his FIP of 1.86 and 2.40 xFIP are far more indicative of how well he performed. The 5-foot-9, 180-pound Louisiana-Lafayette product whiffed nearly 13 batters per nine innings, countering the occasional bout with control problems. He employs a 92-96 mph four-seam fastball, cutter that hovers in the 89-92 mph range and a 77-79 mph curveball. He’s thrown a few hard curveball or softer cutters at 83-85, but doesn’t throw it often.
Farquhar is tough on left-handed batters, thanks in large part to the cutter and being able to get ahead with the fastball and backdoor the curveball. Lefties batted just .171/.256/.229 with but three extra-base hits in just under 120 plate appearances versus the 26-year-old. Right-handed batters, however, had some success — not a ton, but some — posting a .265/.327/.367 triple-slash against him in 2013.
Overall, it was a very strong first significant taste of the big leagues, but Farquhar, who is busy right now on the Seattle Mariners’ annual caravan, is not sitting idly by and resting on his laurels, despite those laurels being fairly strong.
Instead, he’s adding to his repertoire, telling us on 1090 The Fan CBS Sports Radio that he’s working on some new things for 2014. “There’s some thought that I want to mix in the changeup, I threw two changeups last year. I think I want to incorporate that just a little bit more,” Farquhar said Tuesday.
“My big work-in-progress is a two-seam fastball, like a good, consistent two-seam fastball, and I want to start it on the left-hander’s hip and let it run back over the plate.” As Farquhar went on to say, he uses his cutter in on the hands of lefties and a biting two-seamer is the perfect counter for that, since it’s movement is the exact opposite, despite the pitch looking nearly identical to the hitter.
This, in theory, will force the hitter to stay in longer on his cutter or get fooled by the two-seamer, effectively making the cutter, already a plus offering, that much more of a pain in the backside of left-handed batters.
But this is the kind of pitch that can also improve Farquhar’s effectiveness versus right-handed batters, too. Being able to run a fastball back over the outside corner can be valuable, but it also can be used to run in on a right-handed batter the way he uses the cutter versus lefties.
Nobody is quite sure who the closer for the Seattle Mariners will be in 2014. It may be a veteran such as Fernando Rodney, Grant Balfour or Francisco Rodriguez, or it may be more of a journeyman such as Frank Francisco or Kevin Gregg. Tom Wilhelmsen, if he isn’t traded this offseason could get a crack at the job in March, but if the season started today, it’d be Farquhar.
And I’d be fine with that.
Listen to our entire conversation with Farquhar by clicking here. Danny’s spot starts at the 38:00 mark.