Fake Game 6, Mariners at Reds
JA Happ vs. Jason Marquis, 1:05pm (note daylight savings-adjusted time) 710am Radio
The M’s head to Goodyear today to take on Cincinnati. There they’ll face Jason Marquis, a pitcher who came up way back in 2000, in the last period when the M’s were picked as a playoff team. Marquis didn’t pitch in the majors last year; he threw 50 unremarkable innings in the Phillies system, and if you couldn’t break last year’s Phillies’ roster, that’s not a good sign. One reason why is health. Marquis had his 2013 season shut down with elbow pain, and he was bothered by a sore back last year. After some recuperation time, he’s feeling healthy, but he’s still something of a long shot, even with Homer Bailey still sore following forearm surgery.
Though his career platoon splits look pretty normal, when Marquis’ velocity dropped, his splits have gone through the roof. He’s always been a ground ball pitcher, but he’s also had home run problems that have grown worse later in his career. It’s interesting (ok, that’s a stretch, but it’s early March), because Marquis still has a pitch that’s been quite effective against LHBs. His split/change generates plenty of ground balls and weak contact. Against righties, he’s approaching a 50:50 mix of fastballs and sliders, and the slider is still difficult for righties to deal with. The problem is that he simply can’t GET to the offspeed stuff. Over his last two seasons in the bigs (a sample of over 200 innings), righties are slugging .522 off of Marquis’ sinker, while lefties are slugging .525. The fact that Marquis’ fastball velo has dropped about 3mph over the past several years seems like an important factor here.
The injuries and the poor FB explain why Marquis’ been mediocre recently, but they don’t explain why he’s been so bad against lefties in particular. That seems less about pure stuff than an odd game plan. At this point in his career, Marquis’ basically a three-pitch pitcher, with a sinker, a slider and a splitter. To righties, he’s just a two-pitch guy, throwing a flurry of sliders, and keeping the change mostly on the shelf. To lefties, he throws the sinker and splitter, but he also throws a fair number of sliders – nearly 20% over his last 200IP. Maybe it’s to give lefties another look. Maybe he thinks he can sneak a strike throwing a backdoor slider early in the count. Whatever the reason, it’s been disastrous. Since 2012, lefties are slugging .877 against the slider, and have as many HRs off of it as they do his fastball. Now, maybe the reason his split’s been so effective is BECAUSE lefties have to at least consider a slider could be on its way. Maybe the problem isn’t the pitch, it’s the location. In general, Marquis tries to bury the pitch at lefties front foot, but if he misses, it tends to get crushed. In any event, it seems time to try something new. The old approach made him ineffective, and all those sliders (mostly to RHBs, of course) may have contributed to his elbow injury in 2013. We’ll see if he’s doing something new today.
1: Jones, RF
2: Jackson, CF
3: Seager, 3B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Peterson, 1B
6: Bloomquist, 2B
7: Chavez, LF
8: Taylor, SS
9: Sucre, C
Robinson Cano’s on bereavement leave due to the death of his Grandfather in the Dominican Republic.
Yesterday we heard about Yu Darvish’s elbow injury. Today, it sounds like Cliff Lee could be next.
Speaking of injuries, Franklin Gutierrez made it only a couple of days before suffering his first setback of 2015 – in this case, a groin strain. It doesn’t sound too serious, but then they never do.
We could see Fernando Rodney today, along with Charlie Furbush, Danny Farquhar, Lucas Luetge and assorted minor leaguers. Go M’s.