Jason Marquis will stay on schedule
Nationals starting pitcher Jason Marquis will remain on schedule and start next Friday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, a sign that the team believes Marquis's dreadful beginning to the season is an anomaly to be fixed and not an indication of a long-term problem or physical issue.
"He hasn't performed well," General Manager Mike Rizzo said. "But I go back to, like I often do, track record and career and that type of thing. I still believe that Marquis is going to be Marquis at the end of the day. I think concern is probably too strong a word at this point."
On Sunday, Marquis's rough start bottomed out when all seven batters he faced reached base and scored, leaving his season ERA at 20.52.
"It's definitely eating me up inside," Marquis said. "It hurts. It's embarrassing. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses. I'm not good right now. I have no feel for anything. I can't make any pitches. I'm not making any pitches."
In order to regain his typical form - the form that helped him win 15 games last season and land a two-year, $15 million deal this offseason from the Nationals - Marquis threw a bullpen session today. Under normal circumstances, pitchers rest the day after starts and do not throw.
After his start Sunday, Marquis stayed at Nationals Park and watched video of himself pitching last year with the Colorado Rockies and compared it to film from this season. He watched more tape in his apartment when he got home last night, and he watched more again this morning.
"It was like night and day," Marquis said. He discovered that his delivery, when working at its best, was "rhythmic instead of robotic," he said. Marquis realized he was thinking too much about all the moving pieces of his delivery, like the position of his knees and hands. He also realized he was rotating his upper body too much before his release, which allowed hitters to see the ball too clearly.
"I've just tried to simplify it," Marquis said. "I can't be trying seven or eight different things. I tried to watch as much positive stuff and negative stuff just to see the differences in what's wrong, try to prepare, try to recreate that feeling of when things were going good.
"I came up with something that we think is the right move, and I'm going to stick with it instead of maybe giving it one time and don't feel good, then try something different. I'm going to stick with this one thing and just really try to be athletic, be Jason Marquis, and stop trying to be so robotic."
His current feeling, Marquis said, reminds him of his season in 2006 with the St. Louis Cardinals, when Marquis went 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA.
"I've been down this road before," Marquis said. "Maybe the results haven't been as negative as it has, but the feeling's the same. And I know I bounced out of it and I think that I'll be all right."
Marquis stumbled at the end of last season, his ERA jumping from 3.65 in the first half of the season to 4.56 in the second half. Marquis made the All-Star Game with his first half, which came after a slow spring.
"He was terrific for us," Rockies Manager Jim Tracy said. "What's interesting is he had a very questionable spring. When you're talking about a finesse guys versus a power guy, a power pitcher settles in quicker than a finesse pitcher. What we saw was a guy who was still sorting some things out at the end of the spring. Right towards the end of the spring, he was pretty good. He just rolled from there and locked himself and just took off. We don't have the chance to play in the division series if we don't have the type of first half like we had gotten from him."
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