Tag: Sean Marshall

Cincinnati Reds: Narrow Win over Yankees Reveals Disturbing Problem

The Cincinnati Reds played well Saturday in narrow victory at Yankee Stadium.  Homer Bailey is showing signs of being the starter that, for years, fans were told he was.  The bats were alive, and the Reds made the most of their opportunities.  

Joey Votto is looking hot, Heisey and Phillips are heating up and talents like Costanzo are revealing their worth.  But that’s not all the 6-5 win over New York revealed.

The ninth inning came calling again for Sean Marshall.

With the score at 6-3, he had a comfortable lead to work with.  Was there pressure?  Sure, but nowhere near the kind closers have to deal with on a regular basis.  

Taking the mound for the 10th time this year, Marshall gave up four hits and two runs, while only recording a single out.  He was relieved by Jose Arredondo who was credited with the save.

Marshall has seven saves on the year and only one blown save.  At first glance, his stats might suggest he’s playing pretty well.  But then you have to ask yourself about his two holds.  

Sean Marshall has failed to perform on the mound as a closer, and he’s failed twice in the last few appearances to get out of the ninth inning.  He’s starting to draw the ire of fans and the management as well.

Marshall wasn’t brought into the organization to be a closer, but with Ryan Madson’s injury, it became apparent that he would be dubbed the new Reds’ closer.  He looked great in his first appearances, but has only crumbled since.

 With an ERA at 5.02 and a WHIP 1.74, he’s certainly no longer impressive.  Batters are hitting over .300 against the pitcher.  Reds’ fans and staff are losing trust in Marshall quickly, and his confidence is clearly dwindling.

You might ask, ‘what’s the answer?’ 

But that’s the problem.  

The Reds don’t have another pitcher who is really suited to play as a closer.  Many have and will continue to call for Aroldis Chapman to take the job, but that’s totally unrealistic.

Chapman is a born starter and will have a substantially bigger impact in the rotation once he’s out of the bullpen.  Asking him to take the mound to close in consecutive days is a death wish with the young southpaw throwing so hard.  Injury would be inevitable.

Who’s next?  Today’s closer, Arrendondo?  He’s pitched well this year, but his career is riddled with inconsistency, which is evident from his walk rate of 4.3 per nine innings pitched.  

What about Logan Ondrusek?  He lacks experience in closing situations and, although he’s been lights out this year, he has a consistency problem that could be worse than Marshall’s.

Beyond that, Nick Masset and Bill Bray are injured.  Sam LeCure doesn’t have the stuff that the closing role calls for.  JJ Hoover has very little major league experience.  So who does that leave?

The problem the Reds are facing now is Sean Marshall is struggling as a closer, and there’s also a lack of pitchers who could replace him.  

With a role as important as the closer, waiting for form to return could be a huge mistake.  That said, I fully expect Dusty Baker to ride the Marshall train until his confidence returns.  Hopefully that’s sooner rather than later.

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Southpaw Staying Power: Sean Marshall Should Be Extended by Cubs This Winter

This might be hard to believe, but Sean Marshall has probably been better than most Chicago Cubs fans think this season.

Marshall, who turned 28 last month, has had a marvelous season in the Cubs’ bullpen in 2010.

His 6-5 record reflects the confidence both Lou Piniella and Mike Quade have shown in Marshall, using him in tie games 21 times and on back-to-back days 25 times.

Yet there are numbers in Marshall’s stat line this season that leap off the page unexpectedly.

He has nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings, good for 13th in baseball. Largely because of that newfound whiff ability, Marshall also boasts a 2.37 FIP—tied for ninth in the league. 

The strikeouts are well documented: a career-high 85 of them, despite having thrown fewer than 70 frames so far this year. Many fans, however, have not yet taken note of Marshall’s much-improved ground-ball rate.

Until 2010, Marshall had been susceptible to the long ball, allowing 1.2 of them per nine innings in his first four big-league seasons.

This season, that number is 0.39 per nine frames, mostly because Marshall has induced ground balls on over 50 percent of his batted balls. It is the first time in his career that has been true.

Part of the reason is that Marshall’s curveball use is at an all-time high; Marshall gets tremendous tilt and keeps his curve down well, forcing ground balls.

Marshall’s slider had long been a problem, often flattening out and staying up in the zone to left-handed hitters. He has used the slider much less this season, with great results.

To make up the difference, Marshall has ratcheted up his fastball use and has found some velocity on that heat for the first time in his major league career. He now averages over 90 miles per hour on the fastball this year, after averaging scarcely 87 the season before.

That has helped him become such a strikeout force, and he has gotten misses on 10.3 percent of opponents’ swings this year after averaging narrowly more than eight percent whiffs in his career before this season.

If we accept—and it seems fair to do so—that Marshall will be the kind of pitcher he has been this season for the foreseeable future (meaning not that his numbers will always be this pretty, but that he now seems to have two plus pitches and enough command to use them to their full effect), it is time to ask an urgent question: Should the Cubs lock him up now?

In a word, yes.

Marshall will be eligible for arbitration in both 2011 and 2012, and if Chicago is unable to tie him up for the next two years this Winter, he could cost them serious money next year.

Right now, Marshall is not a closer, which immediately mitigates his arbitration value. To illustrate the point, compare Marshall to Dodgers southpaw hurler George Sherrill.

Like Marshall, Sherrill got less than $1 million in his first arbitration-eligible season.

After one year of full-time closing duty, however, Sherrill received $2.75 million, and that number shot up to $4.5 million the next year with Los Angeles.

If the Cubs can lock up Marshall for the next three seasons at $2.5 million per year, they will have successfully avoided the Sherrill pitfall.

Marshall still has good years ahead of him, especially as a left-handed pitcher. In a tandem with Carlos Marmol at the back of Chicago’s bullpen, Marshall could be a strong contributor for the long-term at Wrigley Field.

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Sean Marshall, Kosuke Fukudome: Why, How They Could Help Boston Red Sox

As we approach the July 31 MLB Trade Deadline, the Boston Red Sox will be looking to make a trade or two to help the team stay in playoff contention.

Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is looking to upgrade the bullpen as the team has had poor middle relief from Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima over the last few weeks. 

Epstein has reportedly considered many names such as Rafael Perez, Will Ohman, Mike Gonzalez, Michael Wuertz, Craig Breslow, Kerry Wood, Kyle Farnsworth, and David Aardsma as possible targets. 

Arguably the top reliever available with Matt Capps heading the Twins is Blue Jays relief pitcher Scott Downs.  Downs, has an impressive 2.34 ERA in 47 games for Toronto.  However, the Blue Jays are asking for either Casey Kelly or Jose Iglesias for Downs, a price that they are not willing to pay.

Even with the unlikely acquisition of Downs, the Red Sox still have other options that could come much cheaper.

One name that hasn’t been mentioned at all and who has numbers better than Downs and is also a left handed pitcher is Chicago Cubs reliever Sean Marshall.

Marshall, has been the Cubs primary bridge to Carlos Marmol. This season, Marshall has put up a 6-3 record with an amazing 1.71 ERA in 53 appearances. 

Marshall‘s name has not come up at all in trade rumors, and the Red Sox could make a serious run at him.  Unlike Downs, Marshall’s price tag is likely a lot lower.

The Sox have been looking for a set up man along with Daniel Bard to pitch and hand the ball off to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning.  Their current middle relievers besides Bard are Manny Delcarmen and Hideki Okajima, who both have an ERA over 5.

Marshall is by far the best fit right now for the Sox as a reliever.

The Sox have also been looking into a possibility of bringing in an outfielder to hold down the fort in left field until Jacoby Ellsbury returns. 

Names such as Jayson Werth and Corey Hart have been thrown around, but both are unlikely to move at this point.

However, a guy that no one has really paid attention to who is having an all right season and is a real bargain is Cubs outfielder Kosuke Fukudome, Marshall’s teammate.

Fukudome, has been forced into a pinch hitting role in Chicago in favor of Xavier Nady.  This season, he has a .250 AVG with 8 HR and 26 RBIs. 

The Red Sox have previously shown interest in Fukudome, but were not a fan of his salary.

However, due to lack of interest, the Cubs have tried to draw the Sox back in by offering to pay for most of Fukudome’s 2010 salary as they have been trying to trade him since June.

A Marshall and Fukudome deal for the Sox could be a real bargain and probably their best option to get better at this point.

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Sean Marshall a Dominating Full-Time Reliever: There’s a New Marshall in Town

Since Carlos Marmol was moved to full-time closer duties, a big question was not how Marmol would perform in the new role, but who would replace him as the set-up man or relief ace role.

Sean Marshall has answered all those questions, dominating opposing offenses as a full-time reliever this year.

Marshall currently sports a sparkling 2.70 ERA in 18 relief appearances, which doesn’t show how truly awesome he is pitching, as his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is sitting at 1.29.

He is striking batters out at a ridiculous 11.34 K/9 clip, and he is hardly walking anyone, leading to an otherworldly 7.00 K/BB.

What, you might ask, is the change from previous years?

Well, for starters, he is using his knee-buckling curve ball 10 percent more this year than in years past, and his average fastball velocity has increased from 87 mph to 89 mph. In addition to eliminating the change-up from his repertoire, he has limited the use of his cutter. This limits him to using his fastball, curve, and slider a good portion of the time, all the while focusing on the effectiveness of those pitches.

It’s not even as if Marshall is a left-handed specialist—he’s dominating right-handed batters to a .192 average.

Marshall is just one of those pitchers who can turn it up a notch in relief roles, whereas he had to conserve his energy (and relegate to using less effective pitches) as a starter.

Look for Marshall to dominate the seventh and eighth innings just as Marmol has in years past, without the mid-90’s heat and frustrating walk rate.

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