ROCKIES

What’s wrong with Rockies starter German Marquez?

Apr 27, 2022, 12:39 PM
German Marquez...
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

German Marquez was knocked out of Tuesday’s Rockies game in the fourth inning after his start went off the rails, allowing seven runs on seven hits and a walk, only four of which were earned.

The record of the Rockies mighty righty dropped to no wins and one loss after his first four starts and his numbers are down across the board to begin 2022. Is this a minor blip or the start of a worrying trend for Colorado’s highest-paid pitcher?

So far in 2022, Marquez has allowed four earned runs in each of his starts besides his season debut. The 27-year-old’s ERA is up to 5.57 over last season’s 4.40 and a career 4.31. His strikeout rate is way down, while the opposition is hitting more of his pitches and harder than before.

Over Marquez’s first four starts, he’s allowed a Major League worst 28 hits, an NL-worst 44.2% of balls put into play have been hard hit, according to Baseball Info Solutions, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 23.3% to 14.7%.

Granted, this isn’t the first season Marquez has started slow; he’s historically been not at his best in April. Over Marquez’s career, his strikeouts per nine innings pitched are the lowest in April, and he allows more baserunners in April than any other month.

“It’s always at the beginning at the season; it can be a little rough,” Marquez said Tuesday. “I just need that time to get fastball command.”

There’s some tread to back the claim this is just a slow Marquez April and in line with what his career has been, but there are some really concerning underlying stats.

Marquez has changed his pitch arsenal, using his slider 30% of the time in 2022, which is the most in his career. In fact, he’s currently thrown more sliders than fastballs. For a guy who can easily top 95 mph, the question of why so many sliders is a good one. In 2020, Marquez’s fastball velocity was among the best in MLB, ranking in the 87th percentile. That figure has fallen to the 71st percentile. So a declining fastball is pushing Marquez to throw more sliders, but not just sliders. Marquez is also throwing a career-high rate of sinkers.

Nearly 20% of the Venezuelan’s pitches have been sinkers, a hard fastball-like pitch running towards the pitcher’s arm side. And batters love them. The opposition is hitting .429 against the pitch and slugging .619. Over 66% of his sinkers have been hard hit, and he hasn’t struck out anybody with the pitch. While this is a small amount of data considering he’s only thrown 63 sinkers this year, that’s already more than a quarter of the number of sinkers he threw all of last season. In 2021, it was arguably his best pitch, but historically it’s been the weakest weapon in his arsenal.

“The fastball had good life to it, but it didn’t get to a corner consistently,” Rockies manager Bud Black said Tuesday. “He didn’t get the breaking ball down. I’m sure he’ll say the same thing about his pitch location not being where it needs to be.”

To diagnose Marquez’s issues early on, it looks as though he’s relying on a pitch that last year worked but historically hasn’t. As he loses some speed off his fastball with age, he’s looked for other pitches to throw. The sinker just is not working out right now, and neither is Marquez.

“I have been missing my spots a lot, my fastball,” Marquez said.

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What’s wrong with Rockies starter German Marquez?