Jason Marquis got released by the Twins in May after pitching about as poorly as a big leaguer could possibly pitch, starting seven games with an 8.47 ERA, .371 opponents’ batting average, and more walks (14) than strikeouts (12) in 34 innings.
He quickly signed a minor-league deal with the Padres and joined their rotation after just one Double-A start. And after out-dueling Tim Lincecum last night Marquis now has a 3.48 ERA in 10 starts for the Padres.
And before you go attributing all that success to Petco Park, consider that last night’s win over the Giants came on the road and Marquis actually has a better ERA on the road (3.38) than at home (3.60) as a member of the Padres.
Perhaps the most startling aspect of Marquis’ turnaround is that he’s racking up strikeouts for the first time since … well, ever. Marquis has always had one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball, never whiffing even 7.0 batters per nine innings in a season, yet since joining the Padres he has 56 strikeouts in 62 innings.
How does a 33-year-old with a 4.60 career ERA go from posting an 8.47 ERA and 12/14 K/BB ratio in 34 innings for the Twins to immediately posting a 3.48 ERA and 56/17 K/BB ratio in 62 innings for the Padres? Having watched all seven of Marquis’ starts for the Twins it literally doesn’t seem possible.
Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.
No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.
Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.
Set some time aside to read this today.
This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.
De La Rosa has had elbow issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.
I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.
He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.