A Call To Arms: Marq-ing Out For A German

There are a few times every year a baseball observer could and should become legitimately excited about a pitcher’s progression and growth. Often, those who consume a mass amount of baseball caution against small sample sizes. Rightfully so. They want to see trends and multiple data points before determining whether a player has truly unlocked his potential.

Ladies and gentlemen: The data is in.  The growth is happening. The potential has been unlocked.  It’s time to dive head first into a pitcher who hurls half his games in Colorado.  A pitcher who has a career ERA of 4.36 with less than a K/9, more than 2 BB/9, and a 1.27 HR/9.  While those who hem and haw, who hand wring over the Coors effect, and a half season worth of trends attempt to poo poo your party, you can gleefully buy up all shares everywhere.

Right. Damn. Now.

Marq-ing Time

Truly, the change occurred last season.  On May 23rd, 2017 the Rockies – then in the fledgling stages of a playoff chase – squared off against the pre-galaxy brained Philadelphia Philies at Citizens Bank Park.  If you were box score scouting, the righty’s performance would have been rather unremarkable. His stat line?  93 laborious pitches of which only 59 over were strikes through 6 IP while allowing 7 hits and a 6 K:3 BB ratio. It was in fine, but it wasn’t jaw dropping. Listen closely though and you’ll hear the clarion call.

His pitch selection that day answered the question, “What if less fastball? What if not that?” On May 23rd, the 23-year-old shied away from his 96 MPH primary pitch, an offering he used between ~60%-70% of the time in his previous 8 starts, opting to utilize it a mere 54% of the time.  Now, the untrained observer may look at this and wonder aloud, how do you improve by staying away from a fastball which hits insane heat well into the 5th inning?

Well, because it kind looks like this:

Kike Bomb

That’s Kike Hernandez punishing German Marquez.  Notice that the fastball doesn’t dance in the zone.  No vertical movement. Super flat. When the ball doesn’t change eye level, it doesn’t matter how hard you throw it because they’re going to hit it much harder.  A flat fastball in and of itself is not a terrible issue. One can certainly overcome those deficiencies.  Especially if they become a reliever.  However, it’s problematic when your secondary offering (the 12-6 curve) isn’t very crisp that day.   In fact, of the 25 bombs Marquez permitted last year, 17 (60%) were due to the fastball.  In other words, if the curve isn’t working, Marquez became a one pitch pitcher and the results were terrifying.

Marq It Down

Which brings us back to May 23rd. Marquez featured a pitch he rarely used previously:  the sinker.

Marquez thing

This heavy, tailing action pitch – which sits about 92-94 MPH – complemented his slider and change beautifully and oddly did wonders in creating some major swing and miss for his 4 seamer.  To put it another way, batters are going to struggle when the pitcher can (a) throw a 97 MPH because (b) you’re on your heels flailing at a 82 curveball, (b1) a 86 MPH slider, or (b3) 86 MPH change, as you only hope to foul off (c) the 92 MPH sinker.

It took a few more starts and a trip to the pen before Marquez began implementing, in earnest, the strategy of de-emphasizing his four seamer.  From mid-2017 on, a point I am selecting because that’s the moment when BaseballSavant and BrooksBaseball agree a shift to the sinker occurred, Marquez became an above average pitcher.

To put it in perspective, here’s a chart describing the second half of his season:

Marquez Starts July 7th – September 30th

Games Started


Starts w/ ≤ 3 ER


Starts w/ ≥ 6+ IP


Starts w/ ≥ 6 K






Soft Hit %


This is good! Really good! Like take notice good! And yes, the walks were still kinda an issue. And yes, the HR rate was still a problem.  But he was 22 years old!  If we can overlook it for Blake Snell, we can overlook it for German Marquez. Right!?

On Your Marq’s, Get Set, Go!

Maybe. My colleague Jonathan Merkel sure seemed to think so after the masses decided to rank Marquez #102 on our preseason list. Granted those fly ball rates were scary.  Coors Field, man. It’s a real downer sometimes and it was going to suppress Marquez’s ceiling unless he could figure out how to keep the ball from leaving the yard.

I think you know where this is going. For all the concerns, Marquez has built off his 2017 and improved in the important areas.  Over the course of 2018, he marginally increased his GB% by a few points. It now sits at 47.6%. Placing him firmly in line with the top 25 worm burners across the show.

More interestingly, perhaps, is that he’s increased his K/9 to 9.62.  Moreover, growth should occur over the coming months seeing that his SwStrk% has increased to 10.9% during 2018, putting him in the same company as Jose Berrios, Corey Kluber, and Zack Greinke.  Indeed, his SwStrk% has improved to 13.3% during the second half of this season.  A mark which has elevated him into the same conversation as Noah Syndergaard and Clayton Kershaw.

Meanwhile, he’s limited the number of barreled ball per plate appearance – a metric measuring the type of contact which most likely to results in a hit – to 3.8% over the course of 2018.  Landing him in the same grouping as Gerrit Cole, Jake Arrieta, and Chris Sale.

The names I have listed above: Sale, Kluber, Cole, Kershaw, Syndergaard.  Marquez should not yet be considered in the same company as them.  Perhaps he may never reach that level given that Coors is gonna Coors.  However, it should make us take a second look at Marquez. To seriously contemplate when talent simply doesn’t vanish into thin air.

Marq-et Is Up!

Me?  I see a guy who limits walks.  Who has increased his K/9 and swinging strike rate.  A guy who has clearly worked on getting the ball to stay in the park. A righty that has a 5-pitch mix featuring a fastball he can pump to triple digits well into the 6th inning of a game.  A guy that has opted to evolve with the game over the last year. I see an arm on the precipice of becoming an ace.


The Author

Adam Lawler

Adam Lawler

Previous post

The Dynasty Guru’s Triple Play: Washington Nationals!

Next post

Dynasty's Child Episode 49: It’s a Long Season, Nobody is 100%