Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

What should we do about Marquis?

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8/14 made five (5) starts now on the season for key off-season acquisition Jason Marquis.  That’s 5 starts, 5 times he’s given up as many earned runs as he had innings pitched, 5 times he has failed to pitch out of the fourth inning (!!) that’s 5 losses and 5 times the nats were completely out of it before they had a chance to get going.  2 years, $15M for a guy who wasn’t supposed to be an ace but was supposed to be a quality, eat-innings, pitch decently well as a #3 or #4 starters.  Certainly that’s what he’s been for years for various teams.

What has happened?  He was basically throwing meatball pitches up there against major league hitters.  No sink, no movement, just mid-to-upper 80s meatballs that were hit and hit hard.  Is it still physical?  He did have a minor surgical procedure a couple months ago.  Is it mental?  You need bravado to be successful in the major leagues and he might be short on it right now.

But, what should we do?  Do you sit him?  Put him in the bullpen?  DFA him?  Ask him to go to the minors (where he hasn’t been since 2003)? Replace him with someone else?

I know we have probably better options than Marquis right now.  Stammen pitched well in his last few starts and didn’t deserve to lose his rotation spot honestly.  Zimmermann is ready to come up; there’s only so much dominance of AAA pitchers that is needed.  Maya is a pro and only needs a few warmup starts.  Mock is on a rehab assignment.  Chico pitched well in a spot start against the Dodgers earlier this year.

However, we are committed to 2011 with the guy.  And Instead of turning $15M into a complete waste, i say let him work it out, let him take his lumps as he essentially repeats spring training in August against teams in the pennant race.  Its not as if the Nats are going anywhere.  The season is now about 75% complete, we’re in last place and we’re not getting any better.  All we’re playing for at this point is draft positioning (currently 8th!  we’re getting better, er i mean worse).

Of course, I’ll bet the Nats invent some nebulous “soft tissue” error soon on Marquis (my guess; elbow strain) that gives them an excuse to 15-day DL the guy and put someone better in the rotation.  It is the best solution honestly; he saves face and saves his ego and can write the whole season off to a tough injury.  We’ll see.

Written by Todd Boss

August 15th, 2010 at 8:30 am

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