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Could Márquez be even better?

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Rockies news and links for Friday, August 7, 2020

A knuckle-curve and a refining arm: German Márquez can see how to reach the top | The Athletic ($)

Over the past three years, Germán Márquez has been the most effective and reliable starting pitcher for the Rockies. Kyle Freeland was lights out in 2018, but struggled last year. Jon Gray has flashed potential, but has been inconsistent at times and struggled with injuries.

In order to get the full picture, over the last three seasons with the addition of small sample size of 2020 stats, you can see the totals Marquez is amassing.

Germán Márquez: 93 starts, 551 1/3 innings, 39-24 record, 4.20 ERA, 575 strikeouts, 1.243 WHIP.

Kyle Freeland: 85 starts, 474 2/3 innings, 33-29 record, 4.08 ERA, 368 strikeouts, 1.388 WHIP.

Jon Gray: 79 starts, 448 2/3 innings, 33-22 record, 4.27 ERA, 452 strikeouts, 1.323 WHIP.

This season, all three are off to impressive starts, but Márquez is really something special. That being said, this Nick Groke article should make Rockies fans even more giddy about the 25-year-old. The gist of this feature is that he’s not even pitching his best yet. He is the Opening Day starter this year with a 2-1 record (the only loss being when the Rockies were shutout in the season opener), a 1.89 ERA, 23 strikeouts, 12 hits and four earned runs in 19 innings, five walks, and a 0.895 WHIP.

While Márquez has a fastball range of 96-98 mph and a nicely complimenting slider that, according to Bud Black, “has some horizontal break and vertical break in the high 80s.” The third piece in the arsenal is the knuckle-curve. Márquez was second in the MLB in creating swings and misses in 2019 and is the fifth most effective curve in the game since 2018, according to FanGraph’s weighted curveball value. In other words, Groke says, “Márquez’s knuckle-curve is among the best curveballs in baseball, alongside Zack Greinke’s and Shane Bieber’s.”

After Tuesday’s win, when Márquez gave up two earned runs in 7 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts, Groke quotes Black’s postgame comments: “I don’t think he was as sharp as we’ve seen him” Nolan Arenado added, “To be honest, he pitched well, but that wasn’t his best game.”

The reason is that his curve isn’t doing what he wants … yet. Arenado credits Márquez with an easy-look delivery where it is hard for hitters to tell if it’s a heater or a breaking pitch until it’s too late. But right now, the slider and curve look too similar. “We want two distinct pitches there, between the slider and curveball. He’s trying to create a different shape to his breaking ball … his curveball is meant to be thrown in the low 80s with more top-to-bottom break,” Black explained.

In addition to a mentality of aiming to pitch nine innings every time he takes the mound, Márquez brings the same intensity to working on getting his curve ball to where he wants it. Just imagine what happens when he perfects it: the ace Colorado has always dreamed of.

MLB starting pitcher power rankings | MLB.com

This is a national ranking that includes a Rockies pitcher. In a list highlighted by the likes of Jacob deGrom, Shane Bieber, Gerrit Cole, and Max Scherzer in the one through four spots respectively, it’s fantastic to see any Rockie in a top pitching list. Márquez comes in at No. 10.

“Even pitching in the unfriendly expanses of Coors Field, Márquez has established himself as a top-tier starter for the Rockies. After racking up 405 strikeouts over the last two seasons, the 25-year-old right-hander has 23 over his first three starts of 2020, and his sparkling 1.89 ERA at the top of the Colorado rotation is a big reason behind the Rockies’ fast start.”

Even though Márquez is No. 10 and Rockies fans might put him higher, it helps to look at pitcher who received votes, but didn’t make the cut: Dodgers Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, Yu Darvish of the Cubs, and Atlanta’s Max Fried. In fact, there is no pitcher in the top 10 besides Márquez who is in the NL or AL West except for Lance Lynn (sixth).

Notes: Freeland’s changeup; Davis update | MLB.com

Wade Davis went on the injured list on Aug. 2 and has yet to start throwing, but continues to receive treatment on his right shoulder strain. Davis blew a save in July 31’s loss to the Padres preceding his status shift and there’s no other news on the extent of the injury. With Scott Oberg not likely to pitch this season after being put on the 45-day IL and Davis still sidelined, MLB.com’s Jessie Sanchez notes that Jairo Díaz, Carlos Estévez, and Yency Almonte, who recorded his first career save on Tuesday, will likely alternate in the closer role. Díaz got the save on Thursday.

Here are the Rockies’ 2020 walk-up songs | Denver Post ($)

It’s a diverse list from Post Malone and Drake to Harry Styles, Bad Bunny, and AC/DC. Some are obviously fitting: Pearl Jam’s “Alive” for Daniel Bard, which is pretty good for his comeback fairytale, and Dropkick Murphys “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” for Daniel Murphy.

One that stuck out because we haven’t heard it yet is “Feels Like the First Time” by Foreigner for Ashton Goudeau. It’s something to look forward to whenever he makes his MLB debut. Since we can’t sit in the stands and clearly hear the songs, it helps to see a list. I still sing “Toooo-nigghhhtt” from my couch. It helps.