Last Spring, Sean Marshall was in a competition to make the Chicago Cubs’ rotation. Between he, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, and Tom Gorzelanny, Marshall easily pitched the best. No one questioned it. Unfortunately for Marshall, he also looked like the best option for a beleaguered bullpen. Sure enough, Marshall dominated in the pen, and never said a cross word about not starting.
But 2011 is a new year. Would Marshall like a chance to start again? Bruce Miles thinks so.
Marshall, who’s in line for a nice raise in his second arb year, would love nothing better than to compete again for a starting job. The Cubs probably would prefer to leave him as their eighth-inning setup man, especially not knowing how John Grabow will come back. As a starting pitcher in his career, Marshall is 16-26 with a 4.86 ERA and a WHIP of 1.434. The K/BB is 1.79. As a reliever, he is 10-8 with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.228 WHIP. The K/BB is 2.66. In the past, the Cubs had worried about Marshall’s stamina, durability and ability to remain injury free as a starter. Sean has put on some good weight since coming up as a starter in 2006. He thrived while carrying a heavy workload as a setup man this year. DailyHerald.com.
If Marshall wants a shot at the rotation, you won’t hear it from him. The consummate teammate and professional, Marshall has gone out of his way to emphasize that he’s happy to do what’s best for the team. It doesn’t hurt that, in doing what was best for the team, he developed into one of the best set-up men in the game. I’m sure he’d rather be a dominant reliever than a crappy starter.
Still, if he wants a shot to make the rotation, he’s certainly earned it. And if he pitches nearly as well as a starter in 2011 as he pitched as a reliever in 2010, the Cubs would be shooting themselves in the foot by restricting him to the pen. A good starter is, obviously, much more valuable than a good reliever (if for no other reason than a starter goes 150 to 200 innings in a year, while a reliever goes 50 to 70). Where the math gets difficult is if a guy would be a great reliever, but just a good starter.