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Should Sean Marshall get a shot at the rotation?


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21 replies to this topic

#1 SirCub

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Posted 14 September 2011 - 10:58 PM

There has been a lot of talk recently about how Jeff Samardzija "deserves" a shot at the rotation next year because of the great year he has been having. But what about the several better years that Marshall has had. Is that enough to warrant him a shot? There are plenty of examples of successful transitions from the bullpen to the rotation this late in a player's career (Smoltz, Dempster, Wilson, etc.), so why not give a chance to the most consistent pitcher the Cubs have had for the past two years?

I think Marshall has more of a starter's makeup than Samardzija. He's got 4 quality pitches, has good control, and induces contact. Both have experience as starters, and both have expressed their interest in starting in the future (Samardzija has just been a bit more whiny). Truthfully, I am all for giving Samardzija a shot at the rotation, but in the interest of fairness, Marshall should get a shot too.

#2 MichiganGoat

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:38 AM

I must disagree brave knight, Marshall was used as a starter for couple of years but suffered from an inability to be effective beyond the 5th inning. He was mediocre until the Cubs committed him as a bullpen arm from there he turned into one of best and most reliable setup-men in baseball.

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#3 Brett

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:41 AM

It's a really interesting discussion, but, as MG notes, I'm not sure if enough has changed in Marshall's game since the last time he started. Effectiveness was never really his issue, it was a combination of thin stamina, and an inability to be economical with his pitches.

Marshall is successful as a reliever because he can throw 20 pitches in an inning, and set guys up with carefully-selected pitches. He plays games with hitters. As a starter, you can't do that and still go seven innings. You have to let guys hit you every now and again, and when he changed his style to try and accommodate, he got hit too hard (I disagree that Marshall works to induce contact - I think he works to avoid contact).

That all said, if something has changed, I would love to see Marshall get a look as a starter - always more valuable to have a good starter than a great reliever.

#4 Fishin Phil

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:51 AM

Does anyone know if Marshall even wants to be a starter? He seems to have settled in nicely with his current role.
Please don't feed the psychos.

#5 MichiganGoat

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 07:01 AM

This should help show the major difference between Marshall a starter and a reliever from Fangraphs

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#6 SirCub

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 08:41 AM

Wow, not a whole lot of love for this idea, ha. But allow me to give my stalwart rebuttal.

Those numbers are pretty convincing, MG, but I don't think it just boils down to "he is better as a reliever." I think that a lot has changed since he last started: he has improved as a pitcher. In all reality, his numbers didn't magically drop when they moved him to the bullpen. He has steadily improved in his ability to control his pitches in order to get big league hitters out, and his numbers have improved accordingly. Prior to the 2010 season, he worked on developing his strength, and he has really been able to polish off his pitches because of that.

Yes, Marshall did have some issues with stamina and finishing out the season when he was starting in '06 and '07, but considering that '06 was his rookie year and he had most likely never pitched over 100 innings in a season while in the minors or college, and he went into the '07 season with a shoulder injury that prohibited him from being able to have a full spring training, I think that is understandable. And I think that his added strength will help him improve in this facet as well.

Bottom line, I think that he can be an effective starter. And looking at the issue the team is facing heading into next year, I sure think we could use one of those.

#7 MichiganGoat

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 08:49 AM

Wow, not a whole lot of love for this idea, ha. But allow me to give my stalwart rebuttal.

Those numbers are pretty convincing, MG, but I don't think it just boils down to "he is better as a reliever." I think that a lot has changed since he last started: he has improved as a pitcher.


Since we haven't heard Marshall saying he wants to be a starter and the significant change in his success since becoming a full time reliever. I just can't see this happening. I'm sure it was discussed when the Cubs were having all the starter problems and I can't imagine Marshall wasn't at least asked about wanting to start (but then again I'm never shocked by how stoopid Quade has been). My guess is that Marshall was adamant that he wants to remain a reliever and the stats support this decision.

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#8 SirCub

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 10:39 AM

He has said in the past that he would like to start. He is just a good team mate that accepts the role he is given, and doesn't complain.

#9 MichiganGoat

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 11:08 AM

He has said in the past that he would like to start. He is just a good team mate that accepts the role he is given, and doesn't complain.

That quote is two seasons old, he's had two huge seasons as a reliever since "accepting" his role. I'd say he's now embracing his role and until he publicly says he wants to be a starter I think he is doing what he is comfortable and best at.

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#10 Baseballet

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 03:08 PM

Marshall has indeed improved drastically from when he was a starter. According to FanGraphs, his 2011 WAR is 2.5 And he has the best FIP on the team and the lowest ERA (2.48). That tells me he has really solid pitches.

As for Marshall using too many pitches to get batters out, I don't think that's true. This year he's striking out over nine per game and walking less than two. The only question then is whether or not he has the stamina to start. He's a better pitcher than he used to be, but that doesn't mean his arm is stronger.

If the Cubs were a contender then maybe it would make sense to leave him in the bullpen where he's been terrific. But since these are desperate times and since the Cubs have a surplus of bullpen arms, maybe SirCub is right and they should give him another shot at being a starter. If there has ever been a time for the Cubs to experiment, or to take some risks, this is it. If the Cubs were able to convert him into a viable #5 starter for three years, that would be terrific!

SirCub, one thing that's really giving me pause is Marshall's age. He's 29, so it might be tough to switch him up this late in his career. I'm on the fence. No matter what happens, Marshall has always been one of my favorite Cubs.

#11 Brett

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 05:52 PM

As for Marshall using too many pitches to get batters out, I don't think that's true. This year he's striking out over nine per game and walking less than two.


While I have no idea if the economical nature of his pitch usage remains an issue for him (it was absolutely an issue back when he was starting - he would go 5 innings and already be at 80 to 90 pitches, like, every time out), I'm not sure that the number of guys he strikes out per nine has any bearing on his projected pitch count. Indeed, for many "strikeout" pitchers, they use more pitches than average to get guys out. It's the very nature of the strikeout - bare minimum number of pitches is three.

#12 SirCub

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 06:41 PM

His P/IP (# of pitches per innings pitched) has been as high as 16.6, which is not good, but the past few years it has been below 16 (15.7 this year) which is pretty average. P/IP does not necessarily indicate that a pitcher gets a batter out in fewer pitches though. If they are a good pitcher, and get a higher percentage of batters out, then that will require fewer pitches to get through an inning. P/PA is a more telling stat for this, and Brett is right, P/PA is higher for strikeout pitchers. For instance, Justin Verlander leads the league with a P/PA of 4.07, but his P/IP is a respectable 15.7, because he gets such a high percentage of batters out. Marshall's career P/PA is 3.76, also pretty average (and rather good for a pitcher that gets as many strikeouts as he does). I think he is able to do this because, while strikeouts do raise his pitch count, he doesn't walk very many batters, nor does he give up many hits. The takeaway, I think, is that good pitchers tend to be able to pitch deep into games, because they get a higher percentage of batters out.

#13 MichiganGoat

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Posted 15 September 2011 - 07:56 PM

Sir Cub, glad to have you aboard.

I was also looking at his P/IP and your right he is doing a decent job and if that could be maintained then he'd be an acceptable starter. The only question then is if he can develop the stanima to start, if he can then I'd agree he could be a decent starter.

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#14 King Jeff

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 10:13 AM

SirCub, you may be a knight, but I will fight you if you continue to push for our lefty bullpen stud to move to the rotation to assume his mediocre career as a starter. (just kidding, kind of) The P/IP number is going to go up when he starts, he will have to take something off and pitch to preserve his stamina. You can look at the numbers and say, he should be a good starter, but he always seemed to take a step back every time he was in the rotation. He gives up more hits and walks, and strikes out about half as many guys when he starts. Besides all that, he has never pitched more than 125 innings in a year. In this case I like the eye test better, but the stats don't exactly point to a successful conversion either.

#15 Brett

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Posted 17 September 2011 - 11:02 AM

I love the high-minded direction this thread has taken. Great posts throughout.




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