Last night right handed pitcher Jason Marquis got the start against the Texas Rangers in some spring training action. Marquis posted a line of two runs allowed in 6.0 innings with six hits, three walks and three strikeouts. That line isn’t bad, but it’s not inspiring either. He threw 89 pitches in the game and of those, 52 were strikes. There were 19 balls put in play against him and 12 of them were on the ground (63%).

Of course, you could get most of that information by checking out the box score or reading the game log. Watching the game on television provided some insight. Having the Pitch F/X system running in the stadium that the Rangers call home also gives us plenty of information to chew on.

Pitches

Let’s first take a look at what he was throwing, along with the velocity:

Top Velo Low Velo AVG Velo
Fastball 89.9 85.9 87.9
Slider 83.5 79.9 81.9
Change Up 81.0 76.9 79.7

That fastball velocity leaves a lot to be desired. The good news is, it’s up from where he was throwing last season. It’s also still March, and most guys don’t reach peak velocity until the end of May, so there could be further improvements in his velocity.

Watching the game on television, and the Pitch F/X data backs it up as well, the fastball may not be fast, but it sure has movement to it. It’s an old fashioned sinker with plenty of movement on both planes of action. His slider is almost a cutter, hovering between the two pitches typical movements. .

Pitch Selection

Marquis went with a solid amount of all three of his pitches. Here’s the breakdown:

Pitch Usage
Fastball 63%
Slider 22%
Change Up 15%

As a veteran, you wouldn’t expect to see him overly reliant on a given pitch at this point in the spring, and he wasn’t. Generally speaking, most starters have a 65/35 split on fastball-everything else and that’s where Marquis was at.

Overall Thoughts

If you follow me on twitter, you know how I feel about Jason Marquis. But if not, this is new to you. The good news is that Marquis is throwing harder than he was last season, as Bryan Price said last week. The problem is that this particular pitcher hasn’t been good in a long time and he’s struggling to hit 90 MPH with his fastball. Counting on someone like that, who also has a history of not having a strong walk rate, to be successful at getting Major League hitters out, is not a good plan. Could it work? Sure, it could. But it’s incredibly unlikely. The Cincinnati Reds will be taking a big risk with the odds heavily against them if they decide to put Marquis in their rotation given his recent history and soft stuff.

19 Responses

  1. wizeman

    Doug.. you are the minors expert.Pretend it is May 1.. Bailey is back in rotation with Cueto, Leake, DeScalfini, Marquis.
    What is your prediction for rotations in Louisville and Pensacola on May 1.
    Thanks

  2. big5ed

    He looked to me like he had generally good downward action on most of his pitches. Early on he was leaving them too high in the zone, which is when they hit him pretty hard. Arizona’s dry air isn’t the best environment to evaluate movement on pitches, so it is possible that he has better movement than is thought; the upside is Livan Hernandez.

    Guys with JM’s profile sometimes walk too many guys, simply because they can’t afford to leave their mediocre stuff out over the middle of the plate. They are forced to nibble, and thus get themselves too often in hitter’s counts. I doubt, though, that he will be as horrid against lefties as Arroyo was at the end.

    He might be effective in cold weather for a few starts, and he might gain enough in TJ recovery on his fastball not to be a total disaster. But, he might not. If he is a placeholder that allows the Reds to save some arbitration time on the younger pitchers, then he will have served a purpose. If he makes 7 starts, and the Reds win 3 of them, then that is probably OK.

  3. preacherj

    One thing I noticed is that he significantly changed his timing during the game. Once he began to get knocked around, he sped up his delivery. It seemed to make it harder for guys to draw a bead on him as he progressed through the lineup. He certainly bounced back and finished better than he started.

    • lwblogger2

      He sped his delivery but even more importantly, he spent very little time between pitches. He got it and threw it.

  4. droomac

    His fastball sits right at hitting speed. He may be able to use veteran-y tricks like varying his time to the plate or holding the ball to gain an edge, but he has to pitch off of his fastball/sinker and he had better well be pinpoint with it and maintain good action or he is going to get absolutely hammered early in games. I believe the best case scenario for Marquis is that he demonstrates a capability to get through a lineup one full time before the other team strings together hits.

    I am trying to be optimistic about this season, but then I realize that Jason Marquis is scheduled to make 20% of starts.

  5. lwblogger2

    The PitchFx data makes sense as I was having a hard time on TV (without benefit of the gun readings) telling the difference between the slider and the fastball. Both had similar movement and the velocity difference was not substantial.

    I agree with what Droomac says above. He’s going to have to be pretty savvy and have good command to avoid getting clubbed. I think everyone here gets how I feel about Marquis by now so I’ll stop before I get too negative.

  6. greg

    First off, I am less than inspired by the lack of upside with a veteran like Marquis. He has a long track record of below average results. That said, the average ERA+ of #5 starters should be expected to be below 100. It is not necessarily a normal curve, but something like 125, 115, 105, 100, 90 for a team’s 1-5 seems like a good rotation overall. Has anyone research ERA+ by rotation spot?

  7. Art Wayne Austin

    Best we can hope for from Marquis is can he be to the Reds what Don(Fullpack) Stanhouse was to the pennant-winning Orioles in 1979. When he was the closer for manager, Earl Weaver, he employed an elevated pitch count to set a batter up for an “out” pitch. He, like Marquis, did not have much speed instead used cunning to become the 3rd best closer in the league. Weaver, a chain smoker, penned the moniker, Fullpack, on him for the additional agony. He got a lot of ground balls and grinded it out late in the game. The question is: “Can we stand the agony?”

  8. Kevin J. Brown

    I don’t find it “incredibly unlikely” that Marquis could give the Reds a 4.00 ERA out of the 5th spot. He had a 4.00 ERA in three protracted NL stints from 2011-2013 the last three years he’s pitched. That would be acceptable production for a 5th starter.

    • Steve Mancuso

      He’s had Tommy John surgery at age 34 since then. He’s now 36. His FIP in 2013 in San Diego was 5.65 and WHIP (for those who like this stat) was 1.565. I realize you don’t believe in FIP because Johnny Cueto. It’s not made up by MLB Network to ruin baseball. It’s a more reliable stat than past ERA to project future ERA.

      The way you have your claim worded is incredibly deceptive. Yes Marquis had stints in NL parks during parts of 2011 and 2012 where he pitched around 4.00 ERA, but in *those same years* he had stints with other clubs, one of which was NL if that matters, that were awful. You leave out that information for the readers. His combined ERA for 2011 was 4.43 and for 2012 was 5.22. And you say those are the “last three years he’s pitched” which is also false. He washed out of the Phillies AAA system last year where he had a 4.63 ERA against minor league players.

      Marquis is now four years past 2011, a non-trivial amount of time for any pitcher. And he’s on the other side of major elbow surgery. There’s a reason he was easily available on a minor league contract. And why projection systems estimate his ERA for this year to be around 5.00. He has a career ERA of 4.65. That makes a 4.00 ERA for the Reds incredibly unlikely.

      • Kevin J. Brown

        His stint in Arizona was 11 IP. I trust that readers can look up his stats.

        Relying on AAA stats a short time after a guy comes back from TJ surgery is a stretch to say the least.

        I’m not going to keep arguing about FIP (which is weakly statistically correlated with next year’s performance in general), but it’s been an extremely poor predictor of Marquis’ prior performance being about 1 ERA off from the prior year FIP to his next year’s ERA over years he has pitched substantial innings in both. That includes being over 1.00 ERA off (in opposite directions!) over his last two years in the majors.

        Price is seeing something in the way Marquis is pitching that makes him think he can be successful in the majors this year. There are a number of pitchers who late in their career can signed to minor league contracts, made their way on to a team and performed well. The idea that Marquis has virtually no chance to do so is just too dogmatic for my taste.

  9. Steve Schoenbaechler

    All we are needing from the 4 and 5 hole guys is to go something like 500 in their starts. I’m talking, for their total number of starts, if we can play 500 ball when they are in there, I’m happy. I really don’t care how good/bad of a pitcher they are, what kind of pitcher they are, what their specific numbers say. They are 4 and 5 hole guys, so their numbers aren’t going to be the best. Just play 500 ball, and the 1-3 guys will take care of the rest.

  10. Jay King

    Honestly I hope Marquis has a productive season as a red. If he can come up with oh 8 to 10 wins this year. Keep his pitches down in the zone and get a ERA around 4 to 4.50 as a 5th starter I would be ok with that. If somehow he does better than that Awesome.

  11. sunbreakthedawn

    Thanks for the breakdown Doug. My wildest hope this is Sensei Price’s way of teaching Cingrani how to work with three pitches.Uninspiring to have Marquis as any part of the rotation.
    Baseball Gods please have mercy on Reds fans.

  12. mad at walt

    a joke Jason Marquis called a pitcher
    9 teams in 15 years and still a loser Walt gets rid of good young players to save a couple of bucks picks up these old people that that were over the hill at the start of there career don’t have to pay much money to. so won’t you do us a favor don’t take a paycheck and get us some pitching or take all of your $250 Tommy Bahama shirts and leave Cincinnati, at one time you was an OK GM now you’re just old and taking my team down the gutter with you. so Walt if you are any kind of man at all who says he likes baseball don’t take my reds down this path no more.
    the reds could pay a blind monkey with bananas and get better players than you do

  13. mad at walt

    Brian price because you are the manager you still should be a pitching coach how many runs are you going to let them score before you take Jason Marquis out of the ballgame learn how to manage a ball team. give our team a chance to win not let the Chicago Cubs make us look like fools that they are making us look like

  14. mad at walt

    Homer Bailey not worth $100.00 and old fart walt give him a 100 million dollar contact
    Can u say stupid

  15. mad at walt

    just send the whole bullpen down the Double A and bring up Louisville bullpen