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Guest Week: All Hail Lord Farquhar

By Joel Cicchela (@rotoregression)
August 6, 2013

Ogres may be like onions, but most people wouldn’t say that closers are. They don’t seem to have layers, as most wear their emotions on their sleeves. See Papelbon, Jonathon. But, unless your name is Mariano Rivera, the shelf life of a ninth inning man is relatively short, and in that sense, they are very much like the yellow vegetable.

How do we find a reliever that will last in your dynasty league? Let’s take a look at the stats of two relievers over the course of 2013:

Player IP ERA SV
Player A 42.1 2.34 30
Player B 35.1 5.09 2

These two players seasons look completely dissimilar at first glance. But here’s what is under the hood for both players and comparing to the league average for relievers:

Player K% xFIP SwStr%
Player A

39.3%

2.07

15.3%

Player B

36.1%

2.13

14.2%

RP AVG

21.7%

3.81

10.3%

These stats are very comparable and above average.  The high K%, low xFIP, and high swstr% make for a great fantasy reliever. So where does that nearly 3 run difference in ERA come from?

Player BB% BABIP LOB% Zone% F-Str%
Player A

6%

0.295

81%

42.5%

63.7%

Player B

9.5%

0.359

53.4%

45.1%

54.4%

RP AVG

8.7 %

0.290

75.0 %

45.4%

59.9%

Player B is suffering some bad luck with that high BABIP and low LOB%. He’s not doing himself any favors with that BB%. He is, however, finding the strike zone more than Player A. The other big difference is getting first pitch strikes across.

What if I told you Player A was on the DL for the next 3-5 weeks and is 36 years old?  And then that Player B was 26 and might help you the rest of this season and beyond? That’s right, Jason Grilli is Player A and Player B is someone most of us have never heard of named Danny Farquhar.

So who is Farquhar? He’s been hidden in the land of Far Far Away in the Kingdome of Dulock the Pacific Northwest since the middle of 2012 when he was sent to Seattle from the Yankees in the Ichiro trade. He’s bounced since his debut two years ago, but he changed his approach from side arm to a three-quarters slot and he’s gone from averaging 89.3 mph on his fastball to 94.7 mph this year.

Farquhar pitching in the Blue Jays minor league system in 2010

Farquhar’s revised motion with the Mariners in 2013

The shine has fallen off Tom Wilhelmsen and his gumdrop buttons in Seattle and the stage is set for Farquhar to take over the ninth. Farquhar has been given to save opportunities in the last week, going 2-2. He credits his 41-year-old catcher Henry Blanco for helping him pound the zone inside to hitters as of late and it seems to be working (Last 11 IP: 3 BB, 17K).  If that helps to reel in his f-str%, and his luck stats regress to the mean, we’re looking at many saves and strikeouts to come.

Farquhar huffed and he puffed and he threw his way into the ninth inning role. It turns out relievers do have layers and we had to dig a little deeper to see that in Farquhar’s stats. Because of the ugly-as-an-Ogre ERA and Wilhelmsen lurking in the background, many owners will likely dismiss or devalue Farquhar. So go grab him for yourself, and in the morning, I’m making waffles!

Check out more of Joel’s writing at Roto Regression.

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