When German Marquez takes the mound takes the mound on Wednesday night, he will be five strikeouts short of becoming the Colorado Rockies' single-season crown.
If he punches out a handful of Philadelphia Phillies at Coors Field, he'll pass Ubaldo Jimenez's mark of 214 that he reached in his legendary 2010 campaign, as teammate Kyle Freeland tries to best Ubaldo's 2.88 ERA from that season. While Marquez won't earn any accolades for run prevention this year due to early struggles, he's sat down hitters at a rate unseen from a Rockies starter in the team's 26 seasons: his K/9 of 10.25 will, if it stands, be the first time a player in the purple will reach double digits in that stat.
If the Rockies make the postseason, it will be in no small part thanks to Marquez's pitching and his ability to strike hitters out while still going deep into games, resting the bullpen, especially lately. In three of his four starts in September, he's struck out 11 hitters. In all those games he went at least 6.2 innings, allowing two runs twice and one run once. Even in the outlier start, Sept. 15 at San Francisco in which he only K'd four Giants, he still allowed only three runs and worked 6.0 innings. He hasn't walked more than two batters since late June.
But the season didn't start this way for Marquez. Entering June, his 4.21 ERA was in large part due to his inability to reach a strikeout per inning, and walking almost four hitters per game. A weak March/April performance saw some bounceback in May, but the control of his stuff still wasn't there, breeding manifestation of his worst month of the season in June. But, beginning in July, something clicked, and Marquez worked his way to a 2.77 ERA in the second half, bumping his K/9 above 11 and dropping his BB/9 under two.
Marquez's arsenal has never been questioned, with a blazing fastball and a sharp slider. But, like a wild horse, stuff that electric needs taming. His pitches bucked the 23 year old off the path to success many times in his young career, leaving both him and the Rockies in the dirt. The fastball would ride, the slider wouldn't slide or would catch entirely too much of the plate, or the location simply wouldn't be there. But Marquez persistently dusted himself off, and now it seems he has not just one of the quickest, most durable steeds in the race, but it's also appeared to be one of the most loyal as of late.
Here's how Marquez has conquered the nature of his arm.