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« The Clutch Pitcher | Main | Jose Valverde: Pitching to Contact »
Thursday
Mar102011

Brewers' Shaun Marcum On Radar

Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum will admit that he likes pitching under the radar, being the other guy to prominent pitchers like Zach Greinke.  Now with the Brewers losing Greinke to a rib injury for the first 2-4 weeks of the season, the spotlight will be on Marcum right out of the gate.

Along with a very good cutter, Marcum features an outstanding changeup.  Opposing batters whiffed on the pitch 44.7% of the time last season, putting him in the top 3% of the league (min. 200 changeups thrown), among company like Cole Hamels, Clay Buchholz, and Tim Lincecum. 

As expected, Marcum keeps the change low, and batters were simply unable to get the bat on it.

Shaun Marcum's Changeup, 2010

(click to enlarge)

Batters put up a .172/.197/.233 line versus his change in 2010, and a .188/.256/.298 expected line, which places a value on all changeups thrown in a plate appearance.  As the graphic above shows, Marcum's change stayed down and in to righties and down and away to lefties.  However, batters could not get good wood on the pitch, with most of the damage done on the rare change hung up in the zone.

To have a successful changeup, you need to have a decent enough fastball.  Marcum's one major issue last season came on his fastball versus right-handed batters. 

Shaun Marcum's Fastball, 2010

(click to enlarge)

Lefties hit .202/.260/.331 while righties hit .369/.422/.708.  A .207/.355 BABIP split might suggest he was a bit unlucky throwing the  fastball to RHB.  However, line drives fell in for hits 89.3% of the time while his HR/FB rate ballooned to 24%.  Usually this is a sign that batters are squaring up the pitch well, rather than a product of luck.  He'll need to find a way to make his fastball work against RHB this season in order to continue to be successful with that changeup.

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