On a seemingly-innocuous Friday night last April I was watching the Houston Astros play the Chicago White Sox with my boyfriend, an Astros fan but we make it work, and Danny Farquhar came in as a reliever for the White Sox. I hadn’t thought about Lord Farquhar in years. Without really thinking about it I looked up and said “oh look, Danny Farquhar’s still alive.” A few minutes later Farquhar collapsed in the dugout, having suffered a ruptured aneurysm, and very nearly died.
This past Saturday, Farquhar took the mound for the Yankees - who he’s joining in Spring Training on a minor league deal - for his first outing since the aneurysm. Yesterday he made his second appearance, a hitless inning that concluded with our old pal Andrew Romine grounding into a double play.
Danny’s chances of returning to the majors after suffering a ruptured aneurysm probably seemed slim to many, but the 32-year-old reliever seems to have a legitimate chance. He has the full support of his teammates, who, even after his rocky first outing gave him an enthusiastic ovation when he left the field. “I’ve never been high-fived so much giving up five runs in my career,” he said.
Danny Farquhar spent three seasons with the Mariners during some of their most forgettable years. One of those years was slightly less forgettable, both for the Mariners and for Farquhar. The 2014 Mariners finished third in their division with the winning but not-winning-enough record of 87-75. In light of Farquhar’s return, let’s remember that year and its bullpen. It was pretty good.
2014 relief pitchers
Joe Beimel threw 45 innings across 56 games in 2014, with an ERA of 2.20 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 25/14. These numbers are decent numbers. This was a decent relief pitcher. When Joe Beimel first took the mound with the Mariners he had not pitched in a major league game in almost four years, and displayed his reluctance to break that streak by picking off David Freese at first to end the inning, returning to the dugout having still not thrown a pitch. Beimel bounced around briefly and unsuccessfully after leaving the Mariners in 2015, announced his retirement from baseball in 2017 and now runs a baseball training facility in El Segundo, CA. Beimel is the undisputed best player in MLB history to wear the number 97, on account of being the only player to wear the number 97 but if, say, Bobby Ayala had also worn the number 97 that statement would still stand.
Danny Farquhar threw 71 innings across 66 games in 2014, with an ERA of 2.66 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 81/22. As a Mariner, Farquhar was possibly best known as being one half of the trade that sent Ichiro Suzuki across the diamond to the visiting New York Yankees’ dugout, and was even expected at the time to be the worst part of the almost-nothing the Mariners seemed to be getting. However, the other half of that trade was pitcher D.J. Mitchell, who never pitched in the big leagues again. So in a trade nobody wanted but everyone recognizes had to be made, Farquhar may not be remembered as being adequate compensation for the loss of one of the best Mariners of all time, but he wasn’t the one who did literally nothing ever, and for a few years he was even pretty good. Farquhar also enjoyed a surprising moment of success on the basepaths in 2014, advancing from first to third on a single after being used as a pinch runner in the ninth inning of a 1-0 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Charlie Furbush threw 42.1 innings across 67 games in 2014, with an ERA of 3.61 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 51/9. Charlie Furbush has a good name. We acquired Furbush in a trade that sent fan favorite and other good name Doug Fister to the Detroit Tigers. Both good names, and both good pitchers, and who’s to say who really “won” that trade (the Tigers did), I think it’s safe to say that, in terms of names, both sides won. Furbush had done something pretty cool two years before when he was part of the famed six-man combined no-hitter, entering the game in the 6th inning to take over for starter Kevin Millwood, who had suffered a groin injury. Furbush didn’t do anything quite as cool as that in 2014, but he did a lot of smaller cool things, especially against lefties, striking out nearly one third of the lefties he faced. Furbush had continued success with Seattle in 2015, but had rotator cuff surgery in 2016 and again in 2017 after the first proved unsuccessful. Yesterday he announced his retirement from baseball.
Dominic Leone pitched 66.1 innings across 57 games in 2014, with an ERA of 2.17 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 70/25. Leone made his major league debut with the Mariners in 2014. He had a very successful rookie campaign and definitely pitched against some Rookie of the Year vote getters even if he was not one himself. Leone was traded to Arizona midway through 2015, where in 2015 and 2016 he performed admirably as a Mariners’ double agent still acting on behalf of the best interest of the Mariners, but at the end of the day the Diamondbacks aren’t our direct competition so all parties gave up that charade and Leone was sent to Toronto where he had a solid 2017 season. Last year Leone did well early in St. Louis, but spent most of last season on the DL with “sudden and vague” nerve damage. “Swollen nerves don’t make for happy arms,” Leone warned as he and his happy-once-again arm rejoined the Cardinals, who he’s under contract with through the end of the year.
Brandon Maurer threw 69.2 innings over 48 games in 2014, with an ERA of 4.65 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 55 to 19. That ERA is not good. At first glance, it seems maybe Brandon Maurer had a pretty bad year. But Maurer didn’t make it that simple for us, did he? Maurer began the year in the starting rotation, and in 32.1 innings as a starter he posted an ERA of 7.52. This was not what the Mariners had hoped for, and Maurer was sent back to the minors as soon as they could find a replacement. While back in the minors, though, it was discovered that the Mariners had been starting an imposter! And so the real Brandon Maurer was brought up to Seattle a month later, this time as a member of the bullpen, where he posted an ERA of 2.17 over 37.1 innings in relief. Remember how excited we were about that unbelievable turnaround, and how good it felt to know we had club control over Maurer through the 2019 season? Remember when, after all that, the Mariners traded Maurer to the Padres at the end of that year anyway? Isn’t it fun to remember the 2014 Mariners? Maurer worked as the Padres’ closer for much of his time in San Diego, and midway through 2017 was traded to the Kansas City Royals, where, for the past year and a half, his imposter posted an ERA over 8 while the real Maurer has still been lying low somewhere in San Diego. That’s what you get, trying to send a “laid back California surfer type” to a land-locked city. Brandon Maurer is currently at spring training with the Pittsburgh Pirates, also landlocked.
Yoervis Medina threw 57 innings across 66 games in 2014, with an ERA of 2.68 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 60 to 28. That’s a bad ratio. It’s not a bad ERA, though, because what had happened was Medina emerged from the bullpen to the song “Funky Cold Medina” by Tone-Loc, which distracted opposing batters and made them want to dance. Sometimes those batters swung the bat while dancing, resulting in several strikeouts and accidental bat contact, which led to other kinds of outs, and sometimes those batters did nothing but dance while Medina threw bad pitches and then were awarded their base. What can definitely be said about Medina, though, is he got the job done some of the time. Sometimes when he got the job done it looked like this. Medina pitched in 17 games with the Mariners and the Cubs in 2015 and has not pitched since.
Fernando Rodney threw 66.1 innings over 69 games in 2014, with an ERA of 2.85 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 76/28. Rodney was a late addition to the all star team that year and set the franchise record for 48 saves in a season, which remained the record until Edwin Diaz broke it last year with 57. Rodney was an intense experience, from his extra-hyped entrance to, God willing, his fake bow-and-arrow routine after recording the save. There was that one time, though, in a game against one of his many former teams the Angels, when he recorded the final out in the 8th inning and shot a pretend arrow into the Angels’ dugout. The game wasn’t over though, and he blew the save in the ninth, resulting in multiple Angels players pretending to shoot each other with arrows as they celebrated. Rodney, now 41, is playing for the Oakland Athletics, the tenth major league team he’s played for.
Tom Wilhelmsen threw 79.1 innings across 57 games in 2014, with an ERA of 2.27 and a strikeouts-to-walks ratio of 72/36. That’s also a pretty high ratio, but Wilhelmsen himself was sometimes pretty high and it got him a lengthy suspension, which prompted early retirement from baseball. Wilhelmsen came out of retirement, though, and just to join the heralded Seattle Mariners. Wilhelmsen had done something pretty cool two years before 2014 when he was part of the famed six-man combined no-hitter, closing the game without realizing it had been a no-hitter. He served the Mariners well as long reliever in 2014, despite a brief appearance on the DL after a routine bullpen mishap in which Wilhelmsen was swinging his arms around and Farquhar collided with one, causing a hyperextended elbow. Fortunately Wilhelmsen recovered, and ended the season by expertly swinging his arms around to “Turn Down For What.” Wilhelmsen had mixed success over the next couple years but hasn’t found a major league team to play with since, and in August 2018 was dropped by the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League.