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Bucs Breakdown: German Marquez Stymies Pirates Offense

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Colorado Rockies v Pittsburgh Pirates Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Pirates were flying high after a successful road trip that returned seven wins against four losses. Last night, Colorado Rockies (ace) German Marquez came to spoil the party.

Marquez went eight innings, surrendered three hits, gave up one walk, and drew seven strikeouts without allowing a run.

Marquez threw all five of his pitches during last nights game- his four-seam, sinker, changeup, knuckle curve, and slider. He also mixed his pitches well, being careful not to tip his tendencies too much in favor of the hitter, as demonstrated by this chart below.

70% of the Pirates lineup were left-handed hitters, so we saw plenty of four-seam and curveballs. Even though he threw it just 11 times (out of 104 total pitches), the changeup could be considered Marquez’s most effective pitch of the night producing a 50% whiff/swing rate.

Curious, because Pitch Info’s Pitch Value rating system gives Marquez’s changeup a horrendous -8.09.

His four-seam and curve were also looking strong- 35.3% whiff/swing and 44.4% whiff/swing respectively. Part of the reason is Marquez can work those two pitches off of each other really well.

So was Marquez’s command just on-point last night? Were the Pirates making bad decisions at the plate?

Well, it doesn’t appear that Marquez had the best command given the location of some of his pitches out of the zone. Command+ tells us that he’s right around league-average so this isn’t anything disconcerting for either side.

He missed badly with a lot of sliders and some of his curveballs appear to have broke a little too quickly. Perhaps its more of a question of control than command but either way, 37% of his pitches were taken for a ball.

So is it on the hitters? Were they doing him favors?

It wouldn’t appear it was a big advantage to Marquez but he did induce a fair amount of swings on pitches out of the zone. And, Marquez’s CSW-rate was 30%, which is decent but nothing to indicate he completely owned the hitters last night.

That said, lets look at a couple of examples of Marquez’s approach on some of his early strikeouts.

His first strikeout victim was Adam Frazier in the bottom of the first. Marquez worked him over changing eye levels as you see in the at-bat chart below.

On pitch six, Marquez went from a low 87 MPH changup to a high 94 MPH four-seam fastball. Frazier, clearly guessing, couldn’t hold up and was called out.

In the bottom of the second, it was more of the same to Colin Moran. He delivered a fastball, two changeups, then back to fastball, and finished him off with a low slider (ball) followed by a high fastball.

His next victim was starter Chris Archer who basically did anything he could to try to make contact.

Nothing fancy here- Fastball, slider, fastball, slider, and another second slider that Archer flailed at.

Next man to go down is current NL Player of the Week Josh Bell. Marquez’s approach was much different here. He pounded the lower part of the strike zone with off-speed pitches (three curveballs and one changeup), then put him away with a high four-seam fastball which created a 13 MPH velocity spread off the low knuckle curve.

Moran played the victim yet again, however this time Marquez attacked multiple times low in the zone with three breaking pitches. First hitting the dirt with a slider, then back up with the four-seam, followed by two straight curves to essentially the same location. Moran seemed completely thrown off there, which is a clear indication that a pitcher is pretty well in control of the game.

Anyway, you get the picture. Marquez demonstrated an effective way to attack hitters. Changing eye levels, adjusting velocities consistently, and keeping his four-seam fastballs elevated.

There wasn’t much the Pirates hitters could do. Marquez pitched a great game and the Pirates offense struggled to make the adjustments against him.