Kyle Farnsworth isn't the same pitcher he was five years ago, though he may not be quite as effective as his numbers suggest. The 12-year MLB veteran has evolved into a more hittable pitcher – but not in a bad way. He has career-low walk and strikeout rates this year (2.4 BB/9 and 7.2 K/9) and when batters do put the ball in play, they're hitting more ground balls than fly balls (Farnsworth was a fly ball-strikeout pitcher earlier in his career).
The high ground ball rate is helping Farnsworth keep the ball in the park (two homers allowed) but he is probably going to give up more long balls in the second half since he has an unsustainably-low 5% home run per fly ball rate. The right-hander is stranding more runners than usual and allowing fewer hits on balls in play than he normally does, so his 2.41 ERA has probably been helped by some good fortune.
But lucky or not, there aren't a ton of available relievers who induce ground balls, strike out three times as many batters as they walk and have 95 mph fastballs. Farnsworth has about $2MM plus bonuses remaining on his 2010 contract. If he's traded, the 34-year-old can choose to void his team's $5.25MM option for 2011 and collect a $500K buyout.
Kerry Wood, David Aardsma, Jason Frasor, Octavio Dotel and Matt Capps are among the late-inning right-handers who could be traded this year. Some of those players (like Capps) would require better prospects than Farnsworth and others (like Wood) would require a bigger financial commitment, so the Royals should draw interest in Farnsworth this month.