Last week the Reds announced that they’ve signed veteran pitcher Jason Marquis to a minor league deal. The 36-year-old right-hander had elbow reconstruction surgery in July 2013, but caught on with Philadelphia last year to put up a 3-1 record with a 4.63 ERA in eight starts with their Triple-A affiliate.

Marquis is another Walt Jocketty Cardinals reboot. He was a starting pitcher for St. Louis from 2004-2006. His best year came in 2004 when he posted a 15-7 record with a 3.71 ERA. Since then, Marquis has been somewhat of a journeyman. He has played for Chicago, Colorado, Washington, Arizona, Minnesota, and San Diego. It was with San Diego where he tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, which required Tommy John surgery. Marquis signed with Philadelphia on June 3, 2014, but never saw big league action. He was later released from the Phillies in August of 2014.

Marquis is a ground ball pitcher who relies heavily on his sinker. His repertoire also includes an effective slider, a sinking two-seam fastball, an overhand curve ball, and a changeup. The velocity on his fastball has been on a steady decline since he topped out at 91 mph in 2009. In his most recent complete season with the Padres Marquis fastball was topping out at just less than 87 mph.

Below, you can see a few stats related to Marquis’ pitching style:

Career Averages (2000-2013)

GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ration) – 1.02

GO/AO (ground outs to air outs ratio) – 1.49

K-BB% (strikeout-to-walk ratio) – 4.5%

K% (strikeout percentage) – 13.5%

So, Marquis’ GB/FB ratio shows that batters hit about one ground ball for every fly ball against him and his GO/AO displays that he records about one and a half ground ball outs per fly ball outs. His relatively low K-BB%, which measures a pitchers strikeout ability and overall control, paired with his below average strikeout percentage of 13.5% shows that Marquis doesn’t have overpowering stuff and that he can be susceptible to control issues.

Compare these numbers to the MLB averages below, and it’s clear to see just how Marquis likes to go about his business.

MLB Averages (2000-2013)

GB/FB (ground ball to fly ball ration) – .78

GO/AO (ground outs to air outs ratio) – 1.08

K-BB% (strikeout-to-walk ratio) – 8.8%

K% (strikeout percentage) – 17.6%

Since his best year in 2004 Marquis has posted only one year, 2011 with the Nationals, with an ERA under 4. He did have somewhat of a bounce back year in 2013 with the Padres where he posted a 9-5 record with a 4.05 ERA before his season ending elbow injury. He started out that same year with a 9-2 record and a 3.63 ERA in his first 14 starts. Although Marquis has never been a dominant pitcher throughout his career, he has shown to be more than capable. Who knows how much Marquis has left in the tank, but it’s going to be interesting to see just how effective he is in spring training. If Marquis is 100% healthy and shows signs of his 2013 success (and that’s a big IF), don’t be surprised if we see him make some kind of contribution in 2015.

13 Responses

  1. ohiojimw

    I recall Arroyo’s saying that he needed be in (at least) the 88 MPH range on his fastball to be a successful starter; and, I doubt that Marquis has the array of deliveries and pitches plus control that Arroyo had. So, if Marquis is topping out just short 87 he is probably in the gray area. Hopefully for him and the Reds, the TJ surgery will help Marquis recover a couple of MPH on his heater.

    • lwblogger2

      One thing I will point out that is a pretty significant difference is that Marquis is a sinker-baller and although Arroyo developed a bit of a sinker, that really wasn’t his thing. It could mean that Marquis could pitch with a little lower velocity than Arroyo and get away with it. Like you said though, that velocity certainly puts him in a grey area. You can’t make many mistakes at the minor league level with an 85-86mph fastball, let alone in MLB. If that sinker isn’t sinking, he’s definitely going to get crushed.

      Velocity isn’t the be all end all but it sure is important. It was important enough that during the strike in 1994, during an open tryout when replacement players were being considered, the Tigers dismissed RHPs that didn’t hit at least 88 on the gun. And these were replacement players and guys they would have likely used as minor league filler.

  2. droomac

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if Marquis pitches more than 20 innings for the Reds this year there is no reason to think they will be within 15 games of first place at the end of the year.

  3. JB WV

    Hope he never pitches for the Reds. Might help some of the arms at AAA with advice.

  4. Carl Sayre

    You have to dig through a lot of trash to find a jewel when dealing with these reclamation project. I hope that somewhere is this group of “projects” we find a jewel.

    • Jeff Gangloff

      Exactly. The upside on Marquis is worth the risk of a spring training invite.

  5. cfd3000

    Confused on one of the stats. What is K-BB%? I am familiar with the straight ratio K/BB which is just strikeouts divided by walks with no “percentage” involved – usually in the range of 1.0 to 3.0 or so. A ratio of 8.8 would be all world, but a ratio of 8.8% (0.088) would be horrible. Can someone clarify this K/BB% for me?

    • Steve Mancuso

      It’s a different way of expressing K/BB except in a percentage form instead of ratio. Research has shown K-BB% to be a relatively strong predictor of future ERA.

      We’re trying to switch away from using K/9 and BB/9 and instead using K% and BB% (old habits are hard to break). The percentages are a more accurate reflection of dominance and control. Here’s an example, take two pitchers who each pitch an inning:

      Pitcher A: fly ball out, strikeout, ground ball out
      Pitcher B: home run, single, walk, strikeout, single, double, walk, fly ball out, ground ball out

      The two pitchers would have identical K/9 measures – 9.0 – because it measures how many batters that pitcher would strikeout over 9 innings.

      But K% measures what percentage of the batters faced does the pitcher strike out, Pitcher A has a K% of 33.3%. Pitcher B has a K% of 11%. Both K/9 and K% tell you something, but K% better expresses the pitcher dominance. Aroldis Chapman led baseball in K% (52.5%, which is amazing).

      K-BB% moves in that same direction compared to K/BB.

      • jessecuster44

        So, if Chappy pitched a little bit more, he’d still have that K% What is the ML average K%? How far would Chappy’s K% drop if he pitched 6 innings every 5 days?

      • Steve Mancuso

        Hard to say. Chris Sale’s K% eventually went up, but he wasn’t near Chapman’s level (who is?). There are similarities, though. Sale is a hard throwing lefty who started in the bullpen for the White Sox. Fastball-slider. White Sox jumped his IP from 71 in 2011 to 192 in 2012 and 214 in 2013. Sale’s fastball velocity dropped from 95 to 92 (so Chapman would drop to 96-97). His bullpen K% was 27.4 and now it’s up to 30.4% last year. ERA down from 2.50 as reliever to 2.17 as starter. His three-year WAR average as a starter is 6.0 compared to Chapman’s value at 2.5 WAR. Sale was 3rd in CY voting this year, 5th last year, 6th in his first year as a starter.

        Idea that Chapman would be a less effective pitcher as a starter is, like all other parts of this equation, untested. But there are certainly close fit examples that would encourage the Reds to try.

      • Steve Mancuso

        In 2014, National League average K% was 19.5% for starters and 22.6% for relievers.

      • cfd3000

        Okay Steve, so this (K-BB%) is not a ratio at all, just the difference between % of batters struck out and % walked. Given the description at the top you can see my confusion. And this could also, obviously, be negative if a pitcher walks more batters than he strikes out (whereas K/BB ratio would just fall below 1.0). I’ll have to think about the utility. I suspect it suffers from the same problem as the ratio does, providing relative information with no absolute reference point. Give me two data points – absolute K (or BB) rate or percentage, and the ratio (K/BB%) or the difference (K-BB%) and then we can start to make some meaningful analysis. Thanks for clearing that up – the stat is just what the formula says, I was just thrown off by the description of a difference as being a ratio.

  6. Jeremy Forbes

    For some reason, that photo makes me think he looks a bit like a decade older Tim Tebow.