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Entries in Milwaukee Brewers (41)


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.


Parra Fit for Pen

One name that intermittently popped up whenever I sifted through 2010 pitcher rankings was Manny Parra.  The lefty transitioned to a starting role for the Milwaukee Brewers midway through the season and his numbers began to plummet; he was moved back to the bullpen and it appears the Brewers are planning on keeping him there in 2011.

Despite his unsuccessful run as a starter last season, I noticed that Parra ranked near the top of the league in a few specific areas.  Parra relies heavily on both his split-finger fastball and curveball as out pitches.  Batters had a 54.2% contact rate against Parra’s off-speed pitches last season, which put him in the top 3% of all major league pitchers (min. 400 offspeed pitches thrown).  A 42.1% K-rate put him in the top 4% of pitchers.

Of course, he needs his fastball in order to set up his splitter and curve.  Last season, Parra’s fastball was hit fairly hard; batters put up a .565 SLG and .442 wOBA off it, with an 84.1% contact rate.

Working from the pen is probably the best bet for a pitcher like Parra.  As a starter, he had to rely on his fastball more as he was working multiple innings at a time.  But as a reliever, Parra can lean more heavily on his off-speed stuff without worrying about it taking such a toll on his arm.  In addition, batters will have a tougher time adjusting to his off-speed pitches in short stints.

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