The New York Mets added veteran lefty T.J. McFarland to the organization this offseason in one of those buy-low additions every club will make. McFarland has had big league success in the past so this wasn’t a minor league free agent signing by the club we all completely ignored.
As a lefty, there could be some thought that he cracks the Opening Day roster. Chasen Shreve did so last year despite being signed to a minor league deal.
We know better than to buy into McFarland following in Shreve’s footsteps. Shreve was designated for assignment early on in 2022. His example should have us all prepared to expect nothing out of McFarland this season.
T.J. McFarland is buried in the Mets depth chart already
McFarland already has a few factors working against him. Without even looking at his numbers, a lack of 40-man roster spot and minor league options are working against him. He’s the kind of pitcher the Mets could summon later on in the season for a week or two in case of emergency.
It’s the numbers that make a promotion anything but sure. McFarland was bad for the St. Louis Cardinals last year. In 32.2 innings of work he had a 6.61 ERA. After a pretty awesome showing in 2021 when he was 4-1 with a 2.56 ERA, he made it easy for the Cardinals to move on.
McFarland has had some incredibly bad seasons since his MLB debut way back in 2013. It’s kind of surprising to see him own a career ERA of 4.13 when he has only finished below it three times in ten seasons. He has twice gone over 6.00 with last year’s struggles being the most important to note.
It wasn’t a matter of McFarland being forced to face more righties than usual last season which led to his demise. Lefties tagged him for a .354/.380/.542 slash line. He’s no LOOGY. He’s not even a strikeout pitcher. He has averaged only 5.3 strikeouts per 9 in his career. Over the last three seasons, his highest is 4.9.
The Mets made it through most of the 2022 season with only Joely Rodriguez throwing from the left side. Considering McFarland wasn’t all that great against lefties last year anyway, he might not even be a particularly good choice if Brooks Raley did land on the IL. The .260/.300/.384 left-handed hitters have slashed against him in 836 MLB plate appearances isn’t good enough to really consider him anything but a last resort.
But hey, just because we don't expect a thing doesn't mean McFarland won't provide us with some late-season magic. It's what we're all here for.