He returns! Of course, it’s a little different now than in 2005, when he joined as the closer for a Braves team desperately in need of anyone who wasn’t Dan Kolb or Chris Reitsman to fill the role. Farnsworth was born in Wichita but raised in Fulton County. He was drafted in the 47th round out of a Tifton college by the Cubs in 1994, signed as a draft-and-follow in 1995. He didn’t always pitch well in the minors, but rose quickly anyway, making it up to the majors, as a starting pitcher, in 1999. The results were not very good, and the Cubs moved him to the bullpen. He had a high strikeout rate from the beginning, but a tendency towards control meltdowns and gopheritis held him back at first. In 2001, he blossomed into one of the best relievers in the game, throwing 82 innings and striking out 107, posting a 2.74 ERA as one of Tom Gordon’s setup men. (Sharing the duty… Todd Van Poppel.) However, in 2002, he was terrible, posting a 7.73 ERA. A good year followed in 2003, then a bad year in 2004. In 2005, he was traded to the Tigers, where he moved into the closer role on those occasions when a 91-loss team needed a closer. They shipped him to Atlanta on Deadline Day, for Roman Colon and Zach Miner.
Farnsworth did a great job in the Braves bullpen in the regular season, saving ten games in ten attempts and posting a 1.98 ERA. It came crashing down in the Division Series, however. He was brought into the eighth inning, in relief of Tim Hudson, with two men on and none out, but a 6-1 lead. He got an out, then loaded the bases on a walk, followed by a grand slam to Lance Berkman. In the ninth, still with a one-run lead, he gave up a two-out homer to Brad Ausmus, blowing the game and after a long time delay (nine innings) ending the Braves season. He then wasted little time getting out of Atlanta, signing a contract with the Yankees to set up even though the Braves wanted to bring him back to close.
It didn’t go well for him in the Bronx, as he put up consecutive years of ERAs over four, fell into a mopup role, and became one of the less popular Yankees of recent years. He recovered a bit in 2008, and the Yankees shipped him back to the Tigers, right before the deadline, for what was left of Pudge Rodriguez. He didn’t pitch well for the Tigers, but the Royals, being the Royals, signed him to a three-year contract anyway. He had another bad year, but wasn’t going anywhere. This year, he has posted career-low home run and walk rates, allowing him to put up a 2.42 ERA despite a decline in strikeouts.
Farnsworth has a temper; he’s been involved in several incidents on the field and in the clubhouse. There are those who think he’s a headhunter, but with the poor pitching control he’s shown over the years that might not be true. Middle name is “Lynn”.