30 Players in 30 Days: Jason Marquis

Jason Marquis Opening Day.JPGIt only took one word for Jason Marquis to describe the 2010 season–“weird.” His choice word is pretty accurate considering all the oddities and career firsts he faced this season.

From 2007-2008, Marquis won 23 games for the Cubs, trailing only Ted Lilly and Carlos Zambrano in wins. He compiled six consecutive seasons of double-digit win totals from 2004-2009, the only pitcher in the National League to do so. His 80 wins during that time were third in the NL, behind only Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano. He was the only player in the Majors whose club has reached the postseason each of the last ten seasons. From 2004-2007, he pitched at least 190 innings each season. He’s been the epitome of a reliable, healthy pitcher throughout his career. That’s exactly why the Nationals signed him to a two-year, $15 million contract this past offseason–not to mention the veteran leadership he can bring to a young rotation or his reputation as one of pitching’s best hitters.

Fast forward to this year and a lot has changed. His ERA spiked, he underwent elbow surgery that landed him on the DL for three and a half months and he registered just two wins the entire season.

It didn’t take long for Marquis to realize he wasn’t steering towards the season of his dreams. In his first three starts, he went 0-3, allowing 19 runs in 8.1 innings. At his lowest point, he faced seven batters and allowed seven runs without recording a single out. That would be his last game before having bone chips removed from his elbow and transferring to the DL. But he doesn’t judge his season by the atrocities of April. “I judge it off all my starts I made after the surgery,” Marquis said. “The numbers are what they are, but I was pitching hurt coming out of Spring Training. So I don’t judge it off of how I was before the surgery. That’s the first time I went through a situation like that. I had to battle back. Start by start, day by day, I started feeling more and more like myself. I worked hard to get better, and the work has paid off.”

Upon his August return, Marquis salvaged the year by going 2-6 with a respectable 4.29 ERA, striking out eight in one appearance and seven in another. He did not garner a decision in his final two starts, but he worked six innings in both games, allowing a total of three runs. This is still the guy who manufactured wins in St. Louis and Chicago, who helped lead teams to the postseason year after year and who won the Silver Slugger Award in 2005. One tough year is not going to change that. Expect Marquis to come back matured and more resilient than ever in the final year of his contract.

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