A day after one of the more exciting wins in recent Nationals-memory, Washington erased much of the collective momentum they had built by allowing 10 earned runs in the first inning of Sundays game against the Brewers. While Washington was able to clamp down and hold Milwaukee to only one earned run for the rest of the game, and added seven runs of their own thourghout the contest, it wasn't enough as the Nationals fell back to .500 with an 11-7 loss at home.
More disappointing than the offensive explosion the Nationals allowed was the fact it came off of a pitcher the club spent good money to attain this offseason to help them do just the opposite. Marquis was inked to a two-year $15 million deal to be a workhorse for a rotation that struggled to get quality major league innings, however after three starts this season he has yet to work his way past the fourth inning. This has now come to a head today as Marquis failed to record even one out before being yanked after allowing seven earned runs, a walk, and four hits.
Three starts is surely a small sample size to say the least, but for a pitcher who had struggled in his first two outings the inability to record even one out in his third has to be a red flag. For the clubs biggest winter investment, something has to be wrong. Marquis threw 28 pitches this afternoon, reaching a maximum speed of only 89.2 MPH. His bread-and-butter pitch, his sinker, was only averaging 87.95 MPH on the day, and his fastball was only averaging 85.9 MPH. It appears his release point has slightly raised while his velocity has dropped. The result? Clearly Marquis is having trouble getting batters out.
This is no new problem for Marquis. Selected as an All-Star in 2009 following a stellar first half for Colorado, he fell off the map in August and October posting ERA's of 4.05 and 6.05 respectively. In those months his velocity slowed, his walk rate rose, and his sinker...well...stopped sinking as he started inducing less ground balls and allowed more line drives. But still at the age of 31 his sudden poor play isn't likely do to an early decline, however it leaves some to speculate, does Jason Marquis have some sort of lurking arm injury?
From the second inning on the Nationals were in control of the game. Trying to dig themselves out of their gigantic first inning hole, the Nationals bullpen was stellar. The unit recorded all 27 outs for the Nationals and allowed only one earned run after the 10 run first. Miguel Batista, a former starter, pitched five innings of mop-up work allowing three earned runs on three hits. Tyler Walker, Jesse English, and Brian Bruney combined for four innings of work allowing only one run and four hits while striking out five.
At the plate the top six hitters in Washington's line-up excelled. Willy Taveras, Cristian Guzman, Ryan Zimmerman, and the red-hot Ivan Rodriguez all had multiple hit games. Rodriguez also scored two runs while Zimmerman drove in two himself.