After arriving on the scene with a vengeance his rookie season in 2017, Jake Faria has been trying to regain that form ever since.
His path has taken him from full-time starter to a reliever and now to a new setting. At the deadline this season, Faria was dealt from the Tampa Bay Rays to the Milwaukee Brewers for Jesus Aguilar.
In 2017, Faria made 16 appearances and 14 starts for the Rays, posting a 3.43 ERA with a 1.177 WHIP and an 8.7 K/9 rate. However, the 2018 campaign brought a spike in walks, a slight uptick in hits, and an ERA rise by nearly two.
With this, Faria found himself as primarily a reliever for this season. While some might take this as a demotion, Faria has taken this as an opportunity to find his best stuff again.
“The adjustment this year hasn’t been as bad this year because I have pitched out of the ‘pen in the past,” Faria said. “In 2017, I did a little bit. In 2018, I did a little bit. Even early on in my career, I got hurt my first year of pro ball, I came back and was piggy backing with somebody out of the ‘pen. The adjustment hasn’t been that tough, but it has been helpful coming out of the ‘pen because, when I was at my best in 2015, 2016, and 2017, it was more of me going out there with 100 percent conviction and 100 percent effort as long as I was in the game. The last couple of years have been a bit different. Last year, was trying to conserve energy and my stuff kind of slipped. Me pitching out of the ‘pen now has helped go back out and throw everything with 100 percent effort. It has helped my stuff come back a lot better.”
However, this has come with some challenges for Faria at times. In three appearances with the Brewers, he has an ERA over eight. However, that is based on his second appearance, where he allowed two earned runs in a third of an inning. In his other two appearances, he has allowed just one run on four hits in three innings. With the Rays, he worked 10 innings out of the bullpen and allowed 10 hits, while striking out 11. Though he limited the damage to three earned runs, he also walked seven hitters.
For Faria, regaining his stuff is a plus, but there are also some preparation challenges as well.
“The biggest part of the adjustment is the routine part of it,” Faria said. “As a starter, you throw one day and you know the next day you know that you are going to run this, work out this, and throw this much. As a reliever, it is just knowing ‘am I going to be available today?’ The other day I threw three innings and 50 pitches, so I knew I wasn’t going to be available the next day. The next day, I knew that I could run a little longer, work out a little harder and throw a little farther. It is knowing if you are going to be available and in what capacity. Knowing what your body can take is the biggest adjustment. Throwing every day is not that big of a deal. It is more the stuff away from the field.”
Faria is willing to do whatever it takes to get back to the big leagues with success. He has shown some signs in 2019, but it appears that his future will come as a reliever.