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.
The Marlins are intent on adding one of the three best relievers available on the free agent market, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. Those three, of course, are Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon.
As Ashley noted earlier, Melancon is reportedly fielding multiple four-year offers in excess of $60 million. The price tags for Chapman and Jansen are likely to match or exceed that. The Marlins haven’t typically been eager to whip out the checkbook for free agents but with the bullpen being the name of the game in baseball these days, GM Michael Hill may feel the need to match his rivals.
The Nationals, Giants, Yankees, Cubs, and Dodgers are the teams most often linked to the “big-three” group of relievers, so it won’t be easy for the Marlins.
A.J. Ramos handled the closer’s role for the Marlins this past season and did an admirable job, saving 40 games with a 2.81 ERA and a 73/35 K/BB ratio in 64 innings. There’s no doubt, though, that Chapman, Jansen, or Melancon would represent a significant upgrade in the ninth inning.
C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Reds manager Bryan Price is likely going to use a trio of pitchers in the closer’s role: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, and Michael Lorenzen. At RedsFest on Saturday, Price said:
I’d say right now that we have a series of guys that I’m comfortable with in the ninth inning and that would include (Raisel) Iglesias, (Tony) Cingrani and (Michael Lorenzen). Should we stay with this format – which I intend to do – all three of those guys and maybe more could have opportunities in save situations. At this point in time, there’s no defined closer. There are multiple options and I’d like to stick with the philosophy that we’re going to have our multi-inning guys, so we’re going to need multi-closers.
This seems to be part of the new bullpen zeitgeist in which managers are shying away from strictly-defined roles for their relievers. Indians manager Terry Francona’s postseason success using Andrew Miller likely had some degree of influence on Price’s willingness to go with a three-headed giant.
Iglesias started the 2016 season in the Reds’ rotation but missed two months with an injury, then moved to the bullpen in late June. Price put him in the closer’s role down the stretch in September. The right-hander overall finished the season with a 2.53 ERA and an 83/26 K/BB ratio in 78 1/3 innings.
Cingrani battled control issues in his 63 innings of work this past season, finishing with a 4.14 ERA and a 49/37 K/BB ratio. He’s left-handed, though, and gives Price some matchup flexibility in the late innings.
Lorenzen impressed in his first full season as a reliever, ending the year with a 2.88 ERA and a 48/13 K/BB ratio in 50 innings. The right-hander uses a fastball that sits around 96 MPH on average along with a cutter and slider.