Currently leading the league in losses and earned runs, with an ERA of 20.52, Jason Marquis has not started the season out very well. His first 3 games this year have been bad. But how bad? This is a guy who has a career ERA of 4.57, with some seasons obviously worse than that. He’s had to have a 3 game stretch this bad, right?
Well, he’s never started out this poorly, but in both 2002 and 2003 he had a pretty awful ERA of 6.75 and 6.53, respectively, in his first three starts. In 2003, that was actually on the back of 2 decent starts and one awful relief appearance, so let’s take a look at 2002. That year, he ended up starting only 22 games, and going 8-9 with a 5.04 ERA, something that most Nats fans would be happy to see as a final result at this point. So the awful start was a portent of a bad season final line, except after those first 3 starts he had a 4.70 ERA, something that I think, once again, everyone would be alright with.
As for a 3 game stretch where he’s done this poorly – he hasn’t really come close. There was a 3 game stretch in 2002 where he let up 15 ER, but he has 11 1/3 IP to give him an ERA of 11.91 in that time. That was late in the year and he didn’t really recover to pitch well. In 2005 he made three starts in a row in late August where he let up 16 ER, but it was in 17 2/3 IP so his ERA was 8.15 for that time. His whole August that year was pretty terrible, he had an 8.79 ERA in 5 starts until his final one of the month, when he faced the Nats. In that game he pitched a 2 hit shutout. Go figure. He recovered nicely from there and finished the season decently.
Moving on to 2006, he had a stretch early where he gave up 18 ER in 16 2/3 IP, giving him an ERA of 9.72 for the period. It was a bad season, he had a game where he gave up 13 ER and another with 12, and that 13 ER game was part of a stretch of three where he gave up 24 ER in 18 IP for a 12.00 ERA. That was an awful year and he finished the season with a 6.02 ERA although his record was an impressive 14-16. He lead the league in ER, losses and tied for the lead in HRs given up that year.
With such an unprecedented stretch for him, you gotta figure either he’s completely broken, or he’ll snap out of it. But which is it? He had a bad September-October last year, but a 6.05 ERA over 7 starts is bad, not shouldn’t ever pitch again horrible. The Rockies, however, decided that he didn’t need to be part of their postseason rotation, and he only pitch 1 inning in the playoffs (1 hit and scoreless, if you’re wondering). Keeping in mind this 3 game set is a very small sample size, and shouldn’t be looked at as anything more than a pitcher who wasn’t supposed to be great not looking great. If this continues much longer though, there is a chance that he just doesn’t work right anymore, and the Nats will have to regroup and come up with a new plan every fifth day. Meanwhile, the longer they stay near .500, the louder fans will clamor for that new plan to involve Strasburg. If your wondering, Wang isn’t available until at least June.
On a final note, if perhaps the Nats had signed someone else, who didn’t average under 3 IP per start, and didn’t already accumulate 3 losses, they might have a record of 7-5, 8-4, or even 9-3. Just saying, this team is sitting at .500, and that’s with their biggest offseason pitching acquisition personally losing 3 games for them.