ERIC O’FLAHERTY, LEFT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: February 5, 1985
Drafted: 6th round, 176th overall, 2003 (Mariners)
How Acquired: Minor league free agent
High School: Walla Walla (WA) HS
Agent: MVP Sports Group
WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES
|For a number of years with the Braves, O’Flaherty was one of baseball’s better setup relievers. In his heyday, he threw a fastball that averaged 91-92 with a lot of movement, along with a slider and the occasional change. He didn’t miss a lot of bats in most years, although his K rates weren’t usually low, either. He got a lot of groundballs, with a GB% of 55-60%. Since 2013, both before and after the Tommy John surgery he had that year, his velocity has been only about 90 mph. The Braves initially used O’Flaherty as a lefty specialist, but after his first couple seasons with them they used him as a one-inning reliever. He has a very large career platoon split, allowing an OPS of .549 to left-handed hitters and .751 to right-handed hitters. The Pirates signed O’Flaherty to a minor league deal for 2016 with an invitation to spring training.
O’Flaherty pitched very well in his debut, although he didn’t strike out many hitters.
The Mariners moved O’Flaherty up to full season ball and tried him as a starter for about half a season. He struggled badly, with opponents hitting .344 against him.
Seattle sent O’Flaherty back to low A and moved him to the bullpen, where he stayed for the rest of his career. He pitched better but not especially well.
O’Flaherty moved up through three levels of the minors and made his major league debut in mid-August. He didn’t pitch as well as his ERAs showed; in high A and AA, he allowed a lot of baserunners, with opponents hitting .292 and .300 against him, respectively. He struggled in the majors, partly because of fatigue that led to lowered velocity.
The Mariners sent O’Flaherty back to AAA to start the season, but called him up in late April. He spent the rest of the season in their bullpen, pitching decently.
O’Flaherty opened the season with the Mariners, but struggled badly through seven outings. Seattle sent him to the minors, but he didn’t pitch after June 2 due to a back injury. The Mariners put him on waivers after the season and Atlanta claimed him.
O’Flaherty spent the season with the Braves and pitched well. He got into 78 games, pitching primarily as a lefty specialist. In what would be a trend during his time with the Braves, his xFIP (4.11) was much higher than his ERA.
O’Flaherty again put up a good ERA, and again his xFIP was higher at 3.51. A career high walk rate was a minor problem. The Braves again used him primarily as a lefty specialist. He missed time during second half of the season due to a viral infection.
O’Flaherty appeared in 78 games and became the first reliever ever to appear in 70+ games with an ERA below 1.00. His xFIP, as usual, was much higher at 3.05. The Braves no longer utilized him as a lefty specialist.
The Braves employed O’Flaherty a little more sparingly, but he again posted an excellent ERA. His xFIP was 3.31.
O’Flaherty continued to get good results for the Braves, but by mid-May his velocity was down by one mph and he went on the disabled list. He ended up having Tommy John surgery. The Braves removed him from their roster after the season and he signed a two-year contract with Oakland.
O’Flaherty went on a minor league rehab in June and made it back to the majors in early July. He got good results in 21 games with the A’s.
O’Flaherty opened the season with Oakland, but didn’t pitch well and went on the disabled list for the month of May with a shoulder strain. He continued to struggle with his control after he returned. Oakland traded him to the Mets in a waiver deal in early August. He struggled severely in New York.
With Tony Watson the only lefty set for the Pirates’ bullpen, they likely will give O’Flaherty a chance to win a spot in spring training.
2016: Minor League Contract
|Signing Bonus: $155,000
MiLB Debut: 2003
MLB Debut: 8/16/2006
MiLB FA Eligible: 2016
MLB FA Eligible: 2016
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 8/16/2006
Options Remaining: N/A
MLB Service Time: 8.062
|June 3, 2004: Drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 6th round, 176th overall pick; signed on June 7.
August 16, 2006: Contract purchased by the Seattle Mariners.
November 11, 2008: Claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners by the Atlanta Braves.
October 31, 2013: Became a free agent.
January 22, 2014: Signed as a free agent by the Oakland Athletics.
August 4, 2015: Traded by the Oakland Athletics to the New York Mets for Dawrin Frias.
November 2, 2015: Became a free agent.
February 11, 2016: Signed as a minor league free agent by the Pittsburgh Pirates.