Orioles left-hander T.J. McFarland joked after the Orioles’ 7-1 victory that he didn’t know for certain he would be starting Tuesday’s game against the Texas Rangers until he was told to go into the clubhouse and talk to reporters late Monday night.
The Orioles waited to announce that McFarland would get the spot start until they made sure that they didn’t need him to pitch in relief Monday.
Now McFarland, 25, will get his first start of the year and the second of his major league career. The first came June 28, 2013, against the New York Yankees. He lasted just 2 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, seven hits and a walk. He hopes this one is much different.
“I’m extremely excited for [Tuesday], just a little bit nervous,” McFarland said. “It’s all good things, though, good emotions. I will go out [Tuesday] and do my best.”
McFarland’s longest outing in the major leagues this year was June 8 against the Oakland Athletics, when starter Ubaldo Jimenez was knocked out of the game in the third inning. McFarland allowed just one run in 4 2/3 innings in an 11-1 loss that’s best known for Manny Machado’s eighth-inning bat toss.
McFarland, a starter for his entire professional career until being moved to the bullpen last season as a Rule 5 pick from the Cleveland Indians, made five starts for Triple-A Norfolk earlier this year. His most recent start there was May 17. He lasted 5 2/3 innings, tying his longest start for the Tides.
So there will be a question as to how long McFarland can pitch Tuesday. Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he saved Brad Brach on Monday, so that Brach could back up McFarland, if needed.
“Physically I feel like I can go -- I can’t really put a number on it -- but whatever [Showalter] thinks I can go, that’s it,” McFarland said. “But I’m just going to try and go as deep as I can.”
McFarland is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 14 appearances with the Orioles this season. He has allowed 29 hits and eight walks while striking out 16 in 26 2/3 innings.
But he has been tremendous recently. Since that June 8 game against Oakland, the sinkerballer has thrown 8 1/3 scoreless innings, yielding just four hits and a walk while striking out four in five appearances.
"I have had some success here in the last couple of outings; I’ve been piecing together some good outings. So I think I’m just going to do the same things,” he said. “Obviously starting, it’s a little different than coming out of the 'pen. You have to pitch a little differently. But it’s still the same game, and that’s exactly what I am going to do [Tuesday].”