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A rough one for Jason Marquis, and others

Nationals starter Jason Marquis relies on feel when he pitches, like most any sinkerball pitcher, and right now he has none. Marquis, slated to be the No. 2 starter, lasted only 3 1/3 innings today in his second start of spring training, allowing eight runs on eight hits and four walks. The ugly outing raised his ERA to 21.94.

"I didn't have a feel for anything - delivery, the ball coming out of my hand," Marquis said. "I just got to go back to the drawing board, getting to feel comfortable throwing a baseball. I have an idea of what I want to work on."

In 5 1/3 innings this spring, Marquis has walked seven batters and allowed 13 hits. Pitching coach Steve McCatty attributed Marquis's latest poor performance to rust. Marquis missed his last start due to a rainout and threw about 75 pitches in a simulated game instead.

"I don't make excuses," Marquis said. "The fact of the matter is you've still got to go out there and make pitches."

Marquis said he usually starts slowly in spring training. Today, he focused too much on having a high release point, which threw his mechanics out of whack. Because he has recovered from similarly rough beginnings, Marquis is not overly concerned.

"I think it would have four, five years ago," Marquis said. "Not so much now. You don't want to embarrass yourself, embarrass your team with results like that. I'm a competitor. I still want to compete. I've got three weeks to get it ready."

The same could be said for the rest of the Nationals' pitching staff. Through 14 games, their ERA is 7.92. Closer Matt Capps allowed another earned run today in one inning, something he has done in five of six outings. Tyler Walker surrendered a run, too, lowering his ERA to 23.14.

Falling behind hitters, Manager Jim Riggleman said, has been "the theme of camp." Nationals pitchers have walked 61 batters in 119 1/3 innings. Today, they walked seven.

"As we narrow things down, if that were to continue, that would be a big concern," Riggleman said. "I don't think that's going to continue."

And yet, those guys didn't have the worst day for a Nationals pitcher. The Nationals released Logan Kensing today, which is news I'm only about nine hours behind on. Sorry, Logan, you were trumped. The roster in down to 44.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 17, 2010; 5:56 PM ET
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Next: The surprise ending for Elijah Dukes and the Nationals


So if Marquis is a slow starter, at what point does he usually start to, oh I dunno, pitch well?

Posted by: Juan-John1 | March 17, 2010 7:21 PM | Report abuse

When he was with the Cardinals, the second half of the season.

Posted by: sidbluntley | March 17, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This may sound totally stupid (not a first for me by the way), but what were Marquis' stats for Spring training the last few years? If they were bad then, maybe it is just a case of a slow start.

Then again, I have no baseball sense whatsoever...

Posted by: TimDz | March 17, 2010 7:44 PM | Report abuse

Riggleman may need to look toward Clippard or Bruney for the Closer role - Capps just isn't getting it done at this point.

Posted by: BinM | March 17, 2010 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Tim--was wondering the same thing, likely with the same baseball sense. There are those on this blog, however, who can find these things, and explain why they make no difference, in an effort to educate us. This is a good thing.

The Dukes release makes me kinda sad. It may well have been the right thing, probably was, but he had a rough start in life and I had hoped he would become a good player and a good clubhouse guy and a good father and man. Maybe he still will.

Posted by: NatsFly | March 17, 2010 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Just checked Maruqis's spring training stats for last year, the year he went on to have an all-star worthy first half, and, they were awful, era of 11.37 from 19 IP, a whip over 2.0 and a crap-load of walks.

Posted by: FriendofalltheWorld | March 17, 2010 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Marquis was awful last spring, era over 11, whip over 2.

Posted by: FriendofalltheWorld | March 17, 2010 9:04 PM | Report abuse

oops, i'm losing it.

Posted by: FriendofalltheWorld | March 17, 2010 9:05 PM | Report abuse

There are a lot of excuses coming out of Florida. This has the makings of a disaster.

Posted by: MKadyman | March 17, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

OK, so this has 90+ losses written all over it, but here's why optimism is better:

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 17, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

I read this thinking about how my first two outings to the driving range this season have been up and down and I should understand where Marquis is coming from, but then I remembered: nobody's paying me $7 million a year to hit golf balls.

Posted by: MBUSA | March 17, 2010 9:51 PM | Report abuse

It's common knowledge that Marquis can hit. He's also known to be a good athlete, with good baseball instincts, and he has been used as a pinch runner, as well as a pinch hitter, in the past.

Clearly, he's got a pretty good arm.

Wondering if we can try him out in right field later this week?

Posted by: Sunderland | March 17, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

I read a while ago, old players get worse as the season progresses, young players get better. Marquis isn't young.

Jason really tailed off in August and Sept. and he's off to a bad start. Not good sign.

Posted by: gbooksdc | March 17, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Looks like Bruney is the closer echoing BinM.

Walker looks like a DFA. For god's sakes Rizzo, Riggleman Wilke looks a hell-uv-a lot better and he is cheaper?

Capps can be optioned to Syracuse. Or sent back to Pittsburgh. He'll take the option.

Posted by: periculum | March 17, 2010 11:29 PM | Report abuse

I just watched the Channel 4 news. Dukes's release was not even mentioned by Dan Hellie.

It's really sad that this organization is so pathetic and irrelevant that the local sports guys don't even mention it when the team cuts its starting right fielder.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | March 17, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

>Riggleman may need to look toward Clippard or Bruney for the Closer role - Capps just isn't getting it done at this point.

Looking forward, Riggleman should put out feelers for future employment. I'll bet dollars to donuts that the Gnats get buried early this year, making a managerial sacrifice mandatory to placate the angry fan gods.

If he's not the first manager fired this year, that will be a story.

Posted by: MartinZook | March 17, 2010 11:50 PM | Report abuse

So, does Scott Olsen pitch today? If so, I hope he hits 90 on the radar gun today, so perhaps we have something a little more optomistic to discuss.


Posted by: kevincostello | March 18, 2010 5:22 AM | Report abuse

Nobody pitches today (unless it's a side session), as there is no game... :)

Posted by: OldDude | March 18, 2010 7:11 AM | Report abuse

I believe today is an off day, right? And Strasburg pitches tomorrow. So if Olsen's pitching either day, it must be in an intrasquad game or simulated game.

Posted by: TBCTBC | March 18, 2010 7:24 AM | Report abuse

As much as we baseball fans want things to go our way, things that happen with a team, ie, the dismissal of Elijah Dukes, come about because baseball is very much a business and heart felt reasons for keeping Dukes on the team never enter in. Baseball is Big Business, so we move out of our compassionate reasonings and play the game...

Posted by: bsballu5 | March 18, 2010 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I kinda like this one, sec3:

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 18, 2010 8:57 AM | Report abuse

CiL, which came first? Seems to me that the local tv stations never covered the team much, even in the early days.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 18, 2010 8:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, George Michael did, but he's gone now.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 18, 2010 8:59 AM | Report abuse

Any confirmation of the "Bruney as Closer" from any of the rest of you? I'd be happy to see them be honest about Capps.

Posted by: dime_dropper | March 19, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

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