Brian Shouse retires. And it’s more significant than it seems

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Relief pitcher Brian Shouse, most recently of the Rays, has decided to retire.  Normally I’d skip over something minor like this, but Shouse’s career arc has a certain beauty to it.

Shouse was drafted by the Pirates in 1990. That’s when being drafted by the Pirates was a good thing.  In his first 12 years as a professional baseball player he pitched all of 13 games in the major leagues.  His odyssey through the minor leagues is truly something to behold. I bet he could recommend a place to eat in 95% of the cities in this country. Then, after converting into a sidearmer, he returned to the bigs in 2002 where he stayed through 2009. During that run he was a good and sometimes pretty damn good lefty specialist and middle relief man.

I could make jokes about how lefties never die, but even most rubber-armed lefties would have called it quits sometime before Shouse’s breakthrough in 2002.  There’s some serious work ethic and determination there. Shouse’s retirement is something that should not be left to a three-word entry in the “transactions” section on page C52 of your newspaper.

Nice career Brian Shouse. Kudos to you for sticking with it when most others would have packed it in a decade ago.  Enjoy your rest. You’ve earned it.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.