View Full Version : The New Sean Marshall

07-07-2010, 07:46 PM
This is a long post, but I didn't want people to miss this. From ACB (http://www.anothercubsblog.net/2010-articles/july/the-new-sean-marshall.html):

Sean Marshall... was only a 6th round pick [in 2003], but in 80.2 innings he struck out 99 batters. He walked only 23 and allowed 71 hits and just 1 home run. His K/BB was over 4.5. He was drafted out of college and in that season he played in the low minors. Still, those are impressive numbers for a lefty.

Marshall followed that up by striking out 74 in 77 innings the following season in High A and AA. He walked only 16 that season. Injured in 2004, Marshall would again split time in High A and AA as he rehabbed in 2005. He was just as impressive. In 94 innings, he struck out 85 and walked 31.

Marshall moved up to AAA to begin the 2006 season and made 4 starts and totaled 21 innings. He struckout 21, but walked 16. He was called up the Cubs out of necessity and had a less than impressive big league debut.

Over 125 innings, Marshall posted an FIP over 5.5. He struckout only 5.5 batters per 9 and walked 4.2. He was only 23 years old and already had over 100 innings at the big league level. The strikeouts weren't as high as they were in the minors and he was walking more, which is not a recipe for success.

Marshall returned to AAA to make 4 more starts and his strikeouts remained much lower than before. He did lower his walk rate to under 3 per 9 and was called up. He made 19 starts and appeared in 21 games for the 2007 Cubs. It was a much better season for Marshall. He struckout only 5.8 per 9, which was improvement. He walked only 3 batters per 9, which is more in line with what he had done in the minors. His ERA was below 4, but his FIP was about 4.6.

Marshall has made only 16 big league starts since the 2008 season began and has appeared in 130 games. His strikeouts went way up. He struckout 8 per 9 in 2008 and 7.2 per 9 in 2009. His walk rate remained the same. This season, Marshall's numbers are very impressive (all numbers are through Monday). He's struckout 10.6 batters per 9 innings. His walk rate is the same. Sean Marshall has found a home at the back end of the Cubs bullpen as a result.

What's different? Well, it's pretty simple. Below are Marshall's career numbers as a starter and as a reliever.

Starter 311 1369 6.1 0.342 4.86 4.89
Reliever 108.2 451 8.8 0.280 2.73 3.26

That's still a small sample as a reliever, but those numbers are excellent. Those numbers still don't explain why Marshall has been so dominating this season (2.03 ERA, 2.24 FIP). His average fastball in 2010 is 90.3 mph. His career average is 87.2. His average curve ball is 73 mph, but this year it's up just over 76 mph. Every pitch Marshall throws is being thrown harder than before.

He's also throwing his curve ball more often than he ever has and throwing his fastball less than his career average, but twice as much as last season. It could just be luck, but the reason he's getting many more swings at pitches out of the zone could very well be because of the increased velocity. His career out of zone swing percentage is 23.6%, but it's just over 30% this season.

We know some samples become more reliable more quickly than others. For example, we need only 150 batters faced for K/PA, groundball rate and line drive rate to become reliable. Marshall has faced 159 batters this season so some of his numbers can tell us whether or not we should expect continued improvement.

Prior to this season, Marshall was striking out 16.3% of the batters he faced. He's struckout 29.6% this season. We shouldn't expect him to continue striking out that many, but he's clearly more of a strikeout pitcher these days than he ever has been. If we regress that 29.6% half way to his career average we end up at around 23.5%. That's probably a more realistic number at this point.

Rather than 10.6 K/9, it's 8.4 per 9, which is still quite good.

Marshall's groundball rate is the highest it's been in his career. His career average is 1.36 and it's 1.92 in 2010. Perhaps we should expect something more around 1.64 going forward.

His line drive rate is actually higher this year than his career numbers, but it's right at 20%. That's about what we expect from all pitchers so there's no reason to think he'll allow any more or fewer line drives than that. Marshall has become a valuable pitcher and between he and Marmol, the Cubs have had a great back end of the bullpen this season.

I was interested in how Marshall and Carlos Marmol compare to other teams. To do so, I looked at leverage (pLI) and assumed that the two qualified relievers with the highest leverage were the setup man and closer. This may include an injured player or maybe there's even a team whose setup man has a lower leverage than some other reliever pitching earlier, but for the most part this tells us who the two primary relievers are for each team.

Prior to last night's games, Marshall and Marmol were the two relievers on the Cubs with the highest leverage. They've combined for 2.7 WAR. Only the Dodgers Jonathan Broxton and Hong-Chih Kuo have been as good as the Cubs late inning relievers. That paid has also been worth 2.7 WAR. Heath Bell and Mike Adams of the Padres have combined for 2.6 WAR. Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain have also been worth 2.2 WAR while the Marlins and Rangers each have a pair that combine for 2.1 WAR. Those are the only teams with more 2.

I wasn't that surprised to find this, but when you consider how poor the Cubs bullpen has been at times, it's not because of their late inning relievers. John Grabow is 3rd in leverage and never should have been used as he was, but Marshall and Marmol have made up for his lack of talent. If we include yesterday's games, Marmol and Marshall combine for 3.0 WAR while the Dodgers duo still comine for 2.7. Despite that, the Cubs rank 24th in bullpen FIP at 4.37. Other than those two relievers, the Cubs bullpen has awful.

Below is a table that shows just how bad the Cubs bullpen has been other than those two players.

Cubs bullpen 230.2 27 118 13 227 11 4.37
Marmol and Marshall 82 2 41 7 126 6 2.10
Rest of bullpen 148.2 25 77 6 101 5 5.62

...Without those two... [the Cubs would] be a lot worse than 10 games under .500.

ZiPS projects a 3.86 FIP going forward, but it has him at 7.8 K/9. We've shown it's probably closer to 8.4 so I'm adding 3 strikeouts to his projection over 40 innings, which lowers the FIP to 3.73. Since we're approaching the trade deadline it could be useful to look at Sean Marshall's trade value. If we say he gets traded at the deadline, he could throw 30 innings over the final 2 months for his new team. That's .6 WAR if we use a 1.3 leverage.

Marshall was eligible for arbitration for the first time this past season and he has 2 more years of club control. He makes $950,000 this season. His WAR projection over 75 innings (full season as a reliever) is 1.3 (leverage included). If we use the same 1.3 WAR in 2012 as well, that gives Marshall a surplus trade value of just over $11 million. I've assumed he would be a type A free agent with those kind of seasons before reaching free agency. Add in the fact that Marshall could also be moved to the rotation and his value increases. It's at least $11 million. That's the combined value of Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee.

07-07-2010, 09:38 PM
Good read and very interesting.

07-07-2010, 10:08 PM
Very nice read. Always liked Marshall from the day he was brought up. Has always been there to play in whatever spot.. including left field.

07-07-2010, 10:18 PM
What this means is that the Cubs should never consider moving Marshall, because he'll never command more than Lilly or Lee.

Captain Obvious
07-07-2010, 10:43 PM
And he has a hot wife. Dude has a lot going for him.

07-07-2010, 10:50 PM
And he has a hot wife. Dude has a lot going for him.

Yes she is! http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:LfIQQuK2Rdyb2M:http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_E6-U4BRHjvo/R9MSQ1dWsqI/AAAAAAAAAug/bYZLz-whYeo/s400/marlacollins.jpg

07-08-2010, 01:02 AM
Now watch the Cubs move him into the rotation next year...

Guny Highway
07-08-2010, 01:29 AM
Very good read. I have always liked Marshall. He keeps his head down and hustles.

07-08-2010, 11:51 AM
Now watch the Cubs move him into the rotation next year...

Which is exactly what will happen if Lilly is not re-upped. Marshall's best role is the one he's in right now.

07-10-2010, 02:52 PM
Very good read. I have always liked Marshall. He keeps his head down and hustles.

This made me laugh.

07-10-2010, 03:50 PM
Marshall/Marmol, Castro and Soto are the only players I would give pause to about moving them else...

Chi-Town Sports
07-10-2010, 03:59 PM
Now watch the Cubs move him into the rotation next year...

i would not be surprised especially if we trade a starter

07-10-2010, 11:50 PM
Now watch the Cubs move him into the rotation next year...
That would legitimately piss me off.