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Washington Nationals: Marquis Makes A Mess Of It

April 8, 2010

After a poor showing in 2010 Spring Training, Nationals fans were hoping Jason Marquis would turn on the switch to start the regular season. Unfortunately, they got more of the same. Marquis’ fastball/sinker didn’t sink, and the Phillies once again teed off on a Nats starter.

The Line

The line on Marquis – 4 innings pitched, 22 batters faced, 70 pitches thrown, 8 hits, 6 earned runs, 1 home run, 3 walks and 2 strikeouts. Marquis came to the Nats as a ground ball pitcher. In his outing against the Phillies, he threw 8 ground balls and 8 fly balls. For Marquis to be effective, this ratio needs to be closer to 2:1 ground ball:fly ball.

The Pitches

According to the PitchF/X data, the pitch breakdown was:

Sinker        = 41,   Strike = 17,    Ball = 15,   Ball In Play = 9
Changeup =   8,   Strike =  3,    Ball =  4,    Ball In Play = 1
Slider         = 19,    Strike =  9,    Ball =  4,    Ball In Play = 6
Curve         =   2,    Strike =  0,    Ball =  2,    Ball In Play = 0

PitchF/X has trouble distinguishing from Sinkers and Fastballs, so they were combined for these purposes.

Payoff Pitch Breakdown

What pitch did Marquis use as his “out pitch”? We can look at the last pitch to each batter, and chart the success. Of the 22 batters faced, PitchF/X shows that 13 batters saw a sinker as their last pitch, 8 saw a slider, and 1 saw a change. Here’s the effectiveness of each pitch:


9 of the 13 sinkers batters saw as their last pitch resulted in success for the batters. Marquis gave up 3 walks, 3 singles, 1 double, 1 game ending home run, and 1 hit by pitch. 4 times the pitch resulted in an out or outs – 1 groundout, 2 ground in to double plays, and 1 force out.


5 of the 8 batters that saw a slider as their last pitch resulted in an out. The slider produced 2 strikeouts, 2 line outs, 1 fly out, and 1 ground out. 1 batter singled and 1 batter hit a double off of Marquis’ slider.


Shane Victorino hit a single off of the only change up put in play.


So what can we learn from this? We know that for Marquis to be effective, he has to induce ground balls. His 1:1 GB/FB ratio shows that he missed the mark. Looking at the data, the most ominous bit of information we see is that, in 22 batters faced, Marquis threw his sinker over half of the time, yet only retired 3 batters. Until Marquis can use his sinker to get outs, his ERA will remain in the double digits.

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