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He’s not in Durham anymore: Jake Faria is here to stay

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The rookie got the call, earned the spot, and isn’t leaving anytime soon.

MLB: Chicago White Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Jake Faria was not the Rays top organizational pitching prospect, due to exciting names like Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon crowding the list, but has steadily been a key contributor in Durham. He was called up in early June after injuries at the major league level meant the Rays needed an arm on his day to pitch.

During the first inning of his June 7th start, I was a bit worried that maybe he wasn’t ready for this, and Kevin Cash, quoted on FOX Sports, noted the same erratic pitching:

“You could tell he was amped, and probably throwing balls up in the zone.”

Faria’s first inning consisted of a leadoff single and an RBI single by Jose Abreu. After that, he dominated the White Sox going 6.1 innings giving up one run while striking out 5, and walking 2.

His energy, anxiety, whatever you want to call it, was not helping. But he was able to correct a lot of those issues really quickly for a young pitcher in that type of atmosphere.

He showed zero fear of attacking and getting outs within the zone. That's a big ask for a young guy to come in and come get some of these hitters out. But you've got to prove and establish that you're willing to get them out in the zone, not looking for a chase every single time they're going to swing. And he did that.

In his second start we saw the same domination against an AL East, and former playoff team, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Faria wasn’t roughed up until his seventh inning of work, when fatigue started settling in. He again gave up a single run while striking out eight and only walking one.

Through two appearances, Faria has a 1.42 ERA through 12.2 innings with 13 K, becoming only the third Rays pitcher to be credited with a win in each of his first two starts.

So how has he been doing it? Let’s take a more in depth look at Faria to find out, in anticipation of his next start.

A Mostly Complete Arsenal

Faria has a fastball, changeup, cutter, and curveball, and all four are on display in these highlights:

And here’s the movement on those pitches.

Jacob Faria

According to Brooks Baseball’s numbers, the fastball averaged just under 93 mph, the changeup 81 mph, the slider 85 mph, and the curve, 75 mph.

Fastball

Faria’s fastball has very good vertical movement (more than one and a half standard deviations above the average four-seam) and he is able to elevate it effectively (when not “amped”). It’s been talked about on the Sun Sports broadcast that his fastball appears even quicker than the 91-94 MPH it reads, because of his delivery. It explodes out of his hand and gets on hitters quick. His fastball also benefits from the way it pairs with Faria’s high-quality changeup.

Changeup

Faria’s changeup is effective because for two reasons:

  1. His arm action is the same for the changeup as it is his fastball. This sells the pitch, and allows the large speed differential (grater than 10 mph) to play.
  2. The pitch has significant movement. It runs about half a standard deviation more than average, and it drops .75 of a standard deviation more than average. The most live changeups Faria throws—the ones with nearly no rise due to spin—really fall off the table.

When you combine good arm action, a big speed differential, and a very significant movement differential between the changeup and the fastball, you get a very good pitch.

Cutter/Slider

Faria seems to call this pitch a cutter, but it has movement more generally labeled as slider movement. Whatever it’s called, Faria seems comfortable throwing it, using it as his most-common secondary pitch.

The movement is just enough that he can start it three inches arm-side and have it come back over the plate to freeze hitters. Since it has two-plane movement, he can also throw the cutter on the glove-side of the plate and get right-handed hitters to chase, or get it to duck under the sweet-spot of a lefty’s bat as he jams them.

Curve

If Faria develops his curveball more, he could be even better. Right now, his curveball is a change of pace pitch. This gives the hitters a different look. He rarely uses it, but it has been effective when he’s broken it out. It has average movement.

Command

Also notable in the video above, Faria has been really hitting his spots. Good stuff will play down if a pitcher cannot command, and average-to-above average stuff can dominated because of good location (Dallas Keuchel as an example). Faria’s command is not an issue. Before he was called up, he walked 9.1% of batters. That number isn’t too high, and he should continue to improve as he matures.

Good Body Language

Rookies and especially fiery pitchers tend to struggle with their body language, and it can affect the game in so many ways. Externalizing the frustration can affect pitchers mentally, and it also gives hitters information about the mental state, that they can potentially take advantage of.

When Faria started getting in trouble, especially in his first start, he did not show that he was nervous. He could have broken down in the first inning, but he stayed extremely composed, and was able to dominate the rest of the game.

After these two great starts, Faria looks ready to pitch at this level. It is exciting to see a rookie—part of the future of the Rays—do so well. Even when Andriese comes back, Faria may have carved out a spot for himself. I am extremely excited to watch his next start.

Poll

Where will Faria be in the rotation after this season?

This poll is closed

  • 11%
    Ace #1
    (42 votes)
  • 27%
    Great Starter #2
    (100 votes)
  • 47%
    Good Starter #3
    (170 votes)
  • 10%
    Decent starter #4
    (39 votes)
  • 1%
    Backend starter #5
    (7 votes)
358 votes total Vote Now