McFarland's first two outings with the Canadians came in relief of prized left-hander Justin Nicolino, but the opportunity for his first Northwest League start presented itself and he impressed, throwing six innings of one run ball last Thursday.
"I've always been a starter, the first two games I came out of the bullpen I was actually piggybacking [Justin] Nicolino, so I knew the week before I was going to throw that day," he said.
"I was just hoping for a chance to start and finally I got my first start and it felt good. I had most of my off speed stuff working and the key was just throwing strikes and throwing down [in the zone]."
Canadians pitching coach Jim Czajkowski confirms that McFarland, who did get roughed up a little in his last start on Tuesday, is in the rotation to stay.
"He's going to be an everyday starter, every fifth day for right now until I hear word of something else," Czajkowski said. "We'll take him as far as we can get him as far as our innings regiment but so far he's doing a great job."
At 6-foot-5, the twenty-three year old McFarland is a big pitcher, but he is by no means a power pitcher. He relies heavily on his curveball, a pitch that he's comfortable throwing during any count and in any situation and on his command. That reliance on his offspeed pitch and commanding his fastball is by design.
"I really like to keep the hitters guessing and off-balance. I really mix up my pitches a lot, I have four pitches so I really try to keep the hitters guessing on what pitch is going to come and try to switch up every hitter so they don't expect something."
Czajkowski believes that McFarland's effectiveness overall has to do with the fact he looks like a power pitcher on the mound.
"He looks like a power guy when he's out there, he's 6-foot-5 and he's a big guy. There's a lot of herky-jerky [with his delivery,] and he commands the ball well, spots his fastball on both sides of the plate and he mixes in his breaking ball very well."
For a pitcher without an overpowering fastball, it's impossible to stress the importance of good command.
"You have to throw, in order to be effective here and at all of the next levels up, down in the zone," McFarland said. "Any ball left up, these are really good hitters, so they'll take that ball out. You really have to work on good command at this level and the next."
McFarland is enjoying his experience in professional baseball, specifically the trust that Czajkowski inspires in his pitchers.
"Back in college all the coaches were about technique, and it's kind of cool out here because he [Czajkowski,] says, you guys got here for a reason I just want to see you do that, and he keeps it really simple which really helps."
Czajkowski is more than happy to watch, especially when his pitchers respond in a positive way.
"He got outs quick and that's pretty much been his motto so far," said the pitching coach. "He's throwing the ball for strikes and he's got movement, which adds some deception to his pitches, and guys really don't take good swings off of him."
Going forward McFarland acknowledges that to he can always improve the command of all of his pitches, in particular his changeup. He's thrilled that he's been given the chance to make his case as a starting pitcher and he plans to make the most of it.
McFarland Getting His Opportunity
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