You’re all familiar with pros and cons lists. Today’s subject is pitcher German Marquez from the Colorado Rockies. The 22-year old righty has had an impressive rookie campaign spurred by a two-month hot stretch that is ongoing. He was a top 100 prospect across the industry this year, charting 52nd on Eric Longenhagen’s list, but didn’t get much buzz because of his home ballpark. His quality pitching and the success of Colorado have forced us to take notice.
- 95 mph heater
- No platoon split
- Swing-and-miss curveball
- Above average BB%
- Coors Field
- Only two trusted pitches
- Below average first pitch strike rate (F-Strike%)
- Below average chase rate (O-Swing%)
- Below average hard contact
Marquez is immediately eliminated from consideration for many fantasy players just by virtue of the fact that he plays for Colorado and thus has to contend with Coors Fields for half his games. Truth be told, you’ll never go broke just fading Rockies pitchers, so I get it. But the 2017 pitching landscape has made us reexamine our thresholds for rosterable pitching and paired with a youth renaissance in the Colorado pitching staff, we’ve seen some viable options emerge. Marquez, not Jon Gray, has been chief among them.
Gray gets something of a pass after missing two and a half months to a foot injury, but for the second straight season he has been dealt a few crushing blows on the road which have really curbed his upside. Last year, he allowed 5+ ER on the road three different times including nine at St. Louis and the other two coming against bottom-feeding Philly and San Diego. This year his two worst starts have come on the road – his season opener at Milwaukee and a surprising eight run tattooing at the Mets. In light of all this, Marquez has emerged as the team’s de facto ace during his rookie year.
Now that doesn’t mean he’s an ace in the larger sense of the word, but he’s done a lot of things right in 97 innings to garner attention for the rest of this season and beyond. The 22-year old righty features a 95 mph fastball that he spots all around the zone to both righties and lefties. It’s been his best pitch by far. He pounds the zone with that mid-90s heaters which is why he has a better-than-average walk rate despite a below average F-Strike rate (albeit just below at 60% compared to a 61% average).
His 64% Zone rate with the fastball is tops in the league (min. 1000 thrown), topping a pair of Nationals (Stephen Strasburg at 62%, Max Scherzer at 59%) and teammate Antonio Senzatela (58%). This seems to be a team-wide philosophy – throw strikes with the fastball – as both their starters and relievers pace the league on fastballs in the zone. Marquez is best when working the edges of the zone to lefties (excels on the inner and outer thirds) while focusing outer half to righties. He backs up the big heater with a punishing curveball that has been one of league’s best.
Among the 63 pitchers to throw at least 250 curves, his 51% strikeout rate sits 4th to Corey Kluber (62%), Corey Knebel (54%), and David Robertson (52%) and only Kluber’s 144 PA finished with a curve tops Marquez’s 105 among that quartet. His .435 BABIP off the pitch is 2nd-worst (Jameson Taillon, .439) which has led to a .555 OPS that is essentially average (.568). I think it’s more about hanging curves getting crushed than bad luck, but that’s part of inexperience.
His 28% line drive off the curve is 57th among that same group of 63, but his 4.3% popup rate is 6th, his 19% SwStr% is 12th (tied w/Lance McCullers and Cody Allen), and his 33% chase rate is 17th. It’s not a perfect pitch by any means, but it’s a plus offering way more often than not for Marquez. A 61% K rate against lefties (tied for league-best among righties w/Craig Kimbrel and Knebel) has been instrumental in him maintaining a neutral platoon split (.745 OPS vR, .732 vL).
The curveball is his closest thing to a true plus pitch with the fastball grading just above average with normal ebbs and flows, but that’s really it for his arsenal. The changeup (86 mph, 6% usage) and slider (86 mph, 5% usage) aren’t currently reliable options. He’ll have spikes of one or the other, but he’s used either 10+ times just four time this year: the slider thrice and the changeup once. He throws the pair about 10 times combined in any given outing. The change has the best chance to develop and would give him that weapon for the third time through the order when he allows an .842 OPS. The breakdown by pitch count shows the surge in OPS deeper in games, but also shows that his pure stuff isn’t bad.
- Pitches 1-25: .746 OPS, 20% K-BB in 96 PA
- Pitches 26-50: .674 OPS, 10% K-BB in 117 PA
- Pitches 51-75: .700 OPS, 16% K-BB in 110 PA
- Pitches 76-100: .849 OPS, 19% K-BB in 83 PA
His 27% K rate in pitches 76-100 is the highest among the groupings, but the opposition really catches up to the curveball with a .968 OPS. It allows a .424 in the first 75 pitches of the game. A reliable third pitch could take Marquez to the next level and perhaps push him to an all-formats option even with his residence in Colorado. By the way, Coors hasn’t exacerbated his issues after pitch 75. At home he has an .838 OPS and 19% K-BB rate in 52 PA while on the road it’s .895 and 15% in 38 PA. Although, he does have a .435 BABIP in those situations on the road compared to .303 at home.
I can’t completely ignore Coors Field, but he’s been pitching very well of late with a steady mix of home and road. Over his last nine starts, he has a 3.68 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 51 Ks, and 17% K-BB in 51.3 IP with four at home and five on the road. He’s got a 3.04 ERA and 1.13 WHIP at home and 4.38 ERA and 1.22 WHIP on the road during the nine-start stretch. The bottom line is that I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen from Marquez and he’s now firmly on my radar.