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German Marquez is back

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, June 9, 2021

I think some people don’t fully comprehend just how good German Marquez has been for this team the past few seasons. The stat-altering environment that is Coors Field has always done a number on the reputation of any pitcher who wears purple pinstripes, and Marquez is no different. After a cup of coffee at age 21 and debuting as a full-time starter at age 22, Marquez’s raw career ERA after 122 MLB appearances sits at a rather unimpressive 4.21 (his FIP is 3.82, though), he’s allowed almost exactly one hit per inning pitched, and he has a good but unremarkable 9.1 K/9. The average casual fan will look at those numbers and his just solid 46-35 record and say “well, this guy is pretty average”.

Of course, that’s not the case. Rockies hitters get penalized by the general public for calling Coors Field home, but Rockies pitchers rarely seem to get extra credibility for pitching half of their games at the biggest hitter’s park in baseball today, and German might just be the biggest example of that, because since he broke out in mid-2018, he’s been one of the most productive pitchers in baseball. Since his Dodger Stadium masterpiece on national TV on June 30th, 2018 (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, W), here’s where German ranks in some important stats among qualified starters:

  • 440 IP (7th best)
  • 1808 TBF (4th best)
  • 3.85 ERA (79 ERA-, 13th best)
  • 3.41 FIP (75 FIP-, 8th best)
  • 50.1 GB% (4th best)
  • 10.8 fWAR / 10.9 bWAR (7th best)

And also, consider that both his strikeout rate (25.9%) and his walk rate (6.4%) are both well above average in that span. And for what it’s worth, Marquez has the 5th-best xFIP among starters since 6/30/2018, with his 3.29 mark trailing only deGrom, Cole, Bieber, and Scherzer. This guy is clearly one of the best and most productive pitchers in the Major Leagues. But he didn’t get off to a start that suggested that this season.

Marquez’s had trouble with his control since the second Spring Training began, particularly his fastball command, and particularly from the stretch. And it showed right away to start the season: the righty walked six Dodgers in just four innings of work in Opening Day, and he kept having issues through the rest of April. On April 28th, Marquez took a loss against the Giants, lasting just four innings again and twice walking in a run with the bases loaded. It was bad, but that was only a precursor for what was to come in his next outing.

Marquez’s start against the Giants on May 4th will likely go down as the worst of his career. He managed just two outs, and if the final line was ugly (0.2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 1 K), the process that got him there was even worse. The Venezuelan looked totally lost on the mound, the once aggressive and confident strike-thrower now barely able to locate a simple fastball within the general vicinity of the zone, and his body language was brutal. He genuinely looked like he had no answers for what was happening and no way to fix it. I remember being truly sad after witnessing that, because he looked broken, almost beyond repair.

I should’ve known better, of course.

Since that disaster against SF, German has been a machine in the six starts since: a 1.89 ERA across 38 IP, 41 strikeouts to 13 walks (and two of those free passes were intentional), and the return of his confidence. Since May 9th:

  • Batters have a .163 xwOBA against his curve and sliders, tied for seventh best with Austin Gomber among starters who have tossed at least 100 of them (interestingly enough, he’s tied for first with Austin Gomber).
  • He has 40 strikeouts on curves and sliders, in that span, more than any starter in the Majors.

He was always too talented to let himself be ruined by a period of struggles, so I was probably overreacting (but who can blame me?). And I can delightfully say, folks, that German Marquez is back. He still has small moments where he works through trouble, but he’s here again. Based on data, based on eye test, based on everything. This team’s ace is back.

★ ★ ★

Colorado Rockies prospects: Ryan Rolison to miss time after surgery | Rox Pile

I tell you, this was really unexpected to see. Rolison looked to be very close to his MLB debut following a promotion to Triple-A Albuquerque, but he’s likely to be shut down “anywhere from one month to five or six weeks” (according to Bud Black) after having surgery to remove his appendix following a case of appendicitis. It’s not arm or shoulder related, thank God, but it’s still a setback for the 23-year-old.

How do the 2021 Rockies measure up against the 2020 team? Let’s take a look at the numbers | The Athletic ($)

The answer, after 60 games? They’re basically the same team, even if some faces have changed. The bullpen, while bad, has been better than last year. The lineup remains unproductive, and the rotation remains the strength of the team.

In The Farm

Nº 3 PurP Ryan Vilade had himself a nice day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double and a homer, but it wasn’t quite enough to push the ‘Topes to victory. Starter Ian Clarkin got hit hard (5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 1 K), and Albuquerque stranded the tying run in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth. With that, the Isotopes dropped the series finale and the series itself to Las Vegas, putting them at 9-21 on the season.

It was a rough outing for Nº 11 PurP Karl Kauffman, who was soundly beaten by the Fightin’ Phils (4.0 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 5 K), with his undoing being a fourth inning in which eight men came to the plate, four of them scoring. The Hartford bullpen put up four scoreless frames after Kauffman exited (Nº 50 PurP Will Gaddis tossed two perfect innings with a couple of K’s, and Nº 42 PurP Yoan Aybar pitched a scoreless frame with a couple of punchouts of his own), but the bats got mostly shut down. Hartford is now 9-22 and they’ve dropped seven of their past nine contests.

After taking the previous series against Tri-City, Spokane dropped the opener of their current series against the Canadians, and the two teams now have mirrored records, with the Indians standing at 13-18. Much like Kauffman and Clarkin, Nº 10 PurP Helcris Olivarez got lit up on Tuesday (4.0 IP, 6 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), and his performance included a couple of throwing errors on pickoff throws. Offensively, the Indians got a three-run homer from Nº 4 PurP Michael Toglia, who hit his ninth four-bagger of the season and also added a single to go 2-for-4, but it wasn’t enough to beat Vancouver.

An offensive explosion and a terrific all-around pitching performance propelled the Fresno Grizzlies to their seventh straight win and sole possession of the division lead at 21-10. Nº 33 PurP Breiling Eusebio was masterful (6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K), and reliever Keegan James pitched two perfect innings with four K’s of his own right after that. Offensively, it was a massive night for Nº 8 PurP Drew Romo (4-for-6 with a double), Nº 9 PurP Grant Lavigne (3-for-5 with two doubles and a homer), and Nº 28 PurP Ezequiel Tovar (2-for-3 with a double, a triple, and a walk). Romo in particular is worth mentioning, as the 19-year-old switch-hitting catcher is now 13-for-25 in his last six games. His slash line is up to .293/.318/.463 on the young season.

★ ★ ★

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