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Jason Marquis placed on 15-day disabled list

The Nationals placed struggling starting pitcher Jason Marquis on the 15-day disabled list with elbow soreness, a sign Marquis's disastrous start to his Nationals tenure may have owed more to injury than Marquis or the team had previously thought.

Marquis woke up with stiffness in right elbow Wednesday morning. He alerted team officials and underwent an MRI exam and an arthrogram that afternoon. The test revealed "floating bodies" in his right elbow, General Manager Mike Rizzo said. Marquis will receive a second opinion Thursday from Cincinnati-based physician Tim Kremcheck.

Marquis had been scheduled to start Friday. His replacement, Rizzo said, will come from Class AAA Syracuse will be "on schedule." If he remains in regular rotation, Luis Atilano, 24, would be called up to make the start in his major league debut. Atilano is 2-0 with a 1.64 ERA for Syracuse this season.

As Marquis went 0-3 and accumulated a 20.52 ERA, the Nationals maintained his problem owed to discombobulated mechanics rather than a physical issue. But about 10 days ago, Manager Jim Riggleman said, Marquis "felt a little something, but nothing prohibitive to him pitching."

The Nationals closely monitored Marquis, who repeatedly said he felt fine. But Wednesday, a day after he had thrown a full bullpen session, they learned he was not.

The elbow issue may help explain Marquis's horrendous start. On Sunday, Marquis bottomed out by surrendering seven runs without recording an out. The Nationals this offseason signed Marquis to a two-year, $15 million contract.

"It's hard to pitch with floating bodies in your elbow," Rizzo said. "In my opinion, it probably does have something to do with his struggles."

By Adam Kilgore  |  April 21, 2010; 11:06 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Marquis , Pitching rotation  
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Next: The value of Tyler Clippard


Even if he didn't have physical problems, this give the Nats an excuse to have him make rehab starts and get himself straighted out. If he is hurt, we'll get to see what else the system has.

What a classic home victory tonight -- get the lead in the bottom of the 8th and close it out in the 9th. Capps and Clippard are getting it done very nicely.

Posted by: nats24 | April 21, 2010 11:25 PM | Report abuse

Guzman question: They said tonight he is hitting way better from the right side than from the left. So why not just hit all the time from the right regardless of the pitcher being a righty or lefty. Good hitters bat against both. Can anyone answer this?
(BTW first game at park Friday night and we're seeing Luis who? Manny aint sittin this one out.)

Posted by: dovelevine | April 21, 2010 11:45 PM | Report abuse

To answer dovelevine, hitters switch hit because, for the most part, they have a better look when batting against a pitcher throwing from the opposite side of the plate from which they are batting. The curve ball in particular is problematic when batting right vs. right or left vs. left. In both cases it appears to be coming at the batter and breaks across the plate. So when they say Guzman is hitting better right-handed it means he is hitting well against left-handed pitching. If he was forced to bat right-handed against right-handed pitching as well any advantage he had is gone. Theoretically, at least, he would be less successful hitting against right-handed pitchers than he already is.

That being said, there have been cases where batters abandon switch-hitting because the advantage of being able to "see" the ball better does not trump their superior skills from one side or the other.

Posted by: pryorcommitments | April 22, 2010 5:55 AM | Report abuse

On one level, this is looking like 2005. Team being outscored overall, winning the close ones, talking about how "each night someone else steps up" and "great chemistry" etc.

As we learned in 2005, if you're getting outscored it eventually catches up to you.

On the other hand, this team is potentially very different. The 2005 Nats were a light-hitting team that had great pitching but just didn't have the ability to score enough runs. This team scores runs and supports its starting pitchers to the point it is 8-0 any time it gets a quality start.

Can they fix the rotation well enough to turn this team into a contender this year? Or at least enough to keep it over .500? That is turning into the year's big story line, and June can't come soon enough.

That, and our hero's hamstrings.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 22, 2010 6:59 AM | Report abuse

Attendence sucks. Team's doing pretty fair and they have no idea what would help them out??? Maybe a certain pitcher who is dominating AA could be the answer. Really tiring of the excuses about him. He's ready and will be their Number 1 guy in no time. You non-baseball fans just don't get it.

Posted by: Dog11 | April 22, 2010 7:20 AM | Report abuse

Meh, SS will be here when he gets here. In the meantime, this "non-baseball" fan is enjoying the wins with a great effort from Lannan and a come from behind win from efforts up and down the line-up thank you very much.

Posted by: le_hung41 | April 22, 2010 7:33 AM | Report abuse

With this latest news about Marquis, the powers-that-be are going to be even more cautious with SS, which means... who knows? How many pitchers is it now that our "tender loving care" approach has apparently messed up? I've seriously lost count.

Posted by: MikeH0714 | April 22, 2010 7:51 AM | Report abuse

So much for Marquis anchoring the rotation and pitching 200 innings this year... ick, what a shame... the team has made good improvements in their defense, bullpen, roster depth and team makeup (not to mention management)... but, the starting pitching looks so bad, it is hard not to feel like they are doomed... the early season trend of some close victories sprinkled in with some absolute blowouts will continue... ugh...

I'm loving the 8-7 record right now... but, despite the fight the team is showing, it is hard to see this continuing into the season without SPs who can consistently get your 6 innings of work, at least...

Posted by: Ghost7 | April 22, 2010 7:53 AM | Report abuse

WaPo: "Marquis woke up with stiffness in right elbow Wednesday morning. He alerted team officials and underwent an MRI exam and an arthrogram that afternoon. The test revealed 'floating bodies' in his right elbow..."

"Floating bodies...?" This doesn't sound like it can possibly end well. Bone chips?

Posted by: gilbertbp | April 22, 2010 8:12 AM | Report abuse

Meridian1 asked: "Can they fix the rotation well enough to turn this team into a contender this year? Or at least enough to keep it over .500?"

There are some fairly persuasive reasons to believe that the answer to the first question is a hopeful "Perhaps," and to the second, "Probably."

Remember, we will soon be getting Chien-Ming Wang off the disabled list. He was an all-star for the Yanks before hurting himself, and if he returns to his previous form he could be something resembling an ace.

Ross Detwiler will also be returning from the DL, and he was becoming a solid #4 starter before being shut down last year.

And then there's Strasburg, but I don't need to remind anyone of that.

I would say offhand that our relief pitching has been pretty good. Capps looks like he's a genuinely PROPER closer, the first one we've had since Cordero lost it in mid-'05. Clippard does his Jekyll/Hyde routine, but the Jekyll is as unhittable a pitcher as there is in all MLB (the Hyde couldn't find the plate with a Garmin) and the Jekyll is the one that's shown up most of the time lately. He also gives us a rare bonus for a reliever in that he can go five innings or more, getting stronger the longer he stays in the game.

Bruney seems to be getting himself straightened out, and Batista, English and Walker have appeared quite strong. And of course we have Drew Storen to look forward to in a couple of months or so.

I think there's real, good, solid reason for hope here unrelated to the emotional giddiness of being above .500 for the first time in a couple of years. Now if we can just avoid giving up ten early runs as soon as we play our first innings over .500 we might be just fine.

Posted by: FergusonFoont | April 22, 2010 8:18 AM | Report abuse

A repost from last night
With last night wrapping up the third pass through the rotation, I thought I'd pass along some numbers I found interesting for the pitching staff...

- Starting staff -
Week 1 (4/5-4/9): 0-2, 2 no decisions; Threw 16.0 of 35.0 possible innings (45.7%), with a 2.500WHIP, a 9.56ERA & no Quality starts.
Week 2 (4/10/4/15): 2-1, two no decisions; Threw 23.3 of 44.0 possible innings (53%), with a 1.800WHIP & 7.72ERA; 1 Quality start.
Week 3 (4/16-4/20): 2-2, 1 no decision; 26.0 of 45.0IP (57.8%), a 1.5000WHIP, a 5.88ERA, and 3 Quality starts.

- Bullpen -
Week 1: 17 Appearances, 19.0 of 35.0 innings; 1-1W-L, 1 of 2 saves converted, 1.8947WHIP, 6.63ERA.
Week 2: 18 Appearances, 20.7 of 44.0 innings, 1-1W-L, 3 holds, 3 of 3 saves, 1.5481WHIP, 4.35ERA.
Week 3: 13 Appearances, 19.0 of 45.0 innings, 1-0W-L, 1 hold, 2 of 2 saves, 1.3684WHIP, 4.26ERA.

Three weeks, each one better than the previous; That's including the Marquis & Olsen meltdowns this week. I guess I'm still seeing the glass has half full, but I'm not opposed to ordering another if the server comes around.

Posted by: BinM | April 21, 2010 6:14 PM

Posted by: BinM | April 22, 2010 8:23 AM | Report abuse

Just a quick check. Avg margin of victory 2.75 , avg margin in losses 5.00. i guess 5 runs might be a blowout, but if so, then almost 3 runs isn't a "close" victory. I just don't see the doom, especially when they avg 5 runs a game and even when they're down 10 runs in the first, they score enough runs to make it respectable (11-1 opening day notwithstanding).

Posted by: keepwastingmoney | April 22, 2010 8:49 AM | Report abuse

"Floating bodies" sounds more like a sci-fi movie than a medical diagnosis. Something fishy is going on with Marquis, and if I were Uncle Teddy paying all that money, I'd want to know whether it began last season.

Weren't we just told a couple of days ago that after Marquis came off the mound Sunday he went to throw and felt great, "was pounding the strike zone"? Someone here hasnt been telling the truth.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 22, 2010 9:05 AM | Report abuse

If this sounds like 2005, that will be great for the Nationals because we have more help then in 2005 and that was a 81 - 81 season.

I just hope the boys can keep it up!!!!!

Posted by: punchdaclock | April 22, 2010 9:11 AM | Report abuse

They have got to figure a way to get the word out and get some fannies in the seats. Looks like the WAPO is starting to have a field day with the attendence #'s. Wish the LernerStanK would buy a radio station and turn it into a sports talker. At this point its painfully obvious they get nothing and I mean nothing from the local football talking yocals! Without publicity they are DC United and the Washington Mystiques (sorry futbol & lady rock fans)

Posted by: TippyCanoe | April 22, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

I think this team is very different from the team in 2005. Much more speed and running. I don't think Robinson had the team bunting either. Manny certainly didn't. Looks like Riggleman is playing to our strengths on the basepaths. Also, I can't recall so many defensive replacements being used late in the games as we have seen this year. When Morse returns, we will have even more options.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | April 22, 2010 9:21 AM | Report abuse

"Wish the LernerStanK would buy a radio station and turn it into a sports talker."

Really. The snark on our current talk radio options is a total bummer. Just mean-spirited and self-serving.

Posted by: poncedeleroy | April 22, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

I have been waiting to see Luis Atilano. I have read nothing but good things about him.

Posted by: hansenjo | April 22, 2010 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I'm with Meridian1's comparison with 2005.

At mid 2005, Nats were 50 and 31 -- on pace for 100 wins. But they had scored only 2 more runs than allowed. The "expected" W total was 82, and that's pretty close to the 81 they ended up with.

Now they are 8 and 7, but have scored 18 fewer runs than allowed, so the "expected" W-L is 6 and 9. By that measure, they are on pace for only 65 wins.

It's too early to make 65 wins a prediction, and there are reasons to expect Runs Allowed (and maybe Runs Scored) to improve. So in contrast to 2005, when the wheels fell of at mid season, there is reason to expect something more consistent with the current W-L record.

That's the straw I'm grasping at.

Posted by: KenNat | April 22, 2010 9:43 AM | Report abuse

meridian, if it started last season and the team doctors missed it then you can't put blame on riz or the fo for signing the guy. And as much as you hope Marquis is a honest dude this stiffness/elbow problem might have started awhile ago, it just became pertinent when he started sucking. After all, its nicer to say you are getting shelled because you are injured then because your career is over.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | April 22, 2010 9:50 AM | Report abuse

@SCNatsFan: Where do you see me putting the blame on Rizzo or the front office for Marquis?

I simply said that if I were Ted Lerner I would wonder whether Marquis wasn't hurt last year. I didn't say whose fault it would be.

Anyone who wouldn't at least wonder that would be a fool, and Ted Lerner, whatever else he may be, is not a fool.

@ KenNat and poncedeleroy: I said there were both similarities AND important differences with 2005. That team had pitching and no hitting; this team is the opposite, and may have the cavalry on the way. The similarity lay in the +.500 record despite being outscored.

Posted by: Meridian1 | April 22, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

"Floating bodies" does sound like surgery is coming. Bad "break" for Marquis. Hopefully, it gets straightened out. He could still be a valuable piece for the Nats -- either this year or next. His numbers were up and down last year, but when he was on, he was great.

It will be interesting to see Atilano. That's the thing about baseball -- the best contributions often come from very unexpected corners. No one would have expected him to beat Detwiler to the rotation, but if he succeeds....

Posted by: fischy | April 22, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Marquis was messed up the second half of last year. Any time there's a sudden drop in velocity, it's a physical problem. Rizzo blew it when they signed him. The guy's ERA was up around 7 the last couple of months of last season, and the front office here couldn't see that was a huge red flag. And then they compound it by signing him FOR TWO YEARS. Unbelievable. He's gone for the rest of the year - you can't remove chips in your elbow and get back inside of a year.

Posted by: Brue | April 22, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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