There is little question that German Marquez has risen through the Colorado Rockies pitching ranks to become the leader of the rotation. There is also little question that there is plenty of room for Marquez to keep growing in his talents on the mound.
Last season, the 24-year-old Marquez finished 14-11 with a 3.77 ERA. It represented a new career-high in wins and ERA as he set a new Colorado Rockies record for strikeouts in a season with 230. As solid as Marquez was throughout the season, he was especially effective after the All-Star break, where he was 8-5 with a 2.95 ERA in 17 starts. One of the reasons for that? The ability to throw five pitches, including a developing changeup.
That changeup was a work in progress last season as Marquez threw it 6.4 percent of the time he was on the mound. Of 199 changeups thrown, opponents hit .270 while swinging and missing just 19.4 percent of the time. Compare that to his curveball (709 thrown), where opponents hit .148 and whiffed 47.4 percent of the time or his slider (494 thrown), where opponents hit .162 and whiffed 42.4 percent of the time.
Yet those were secondary pitches as Marquez threw 1,434 fastballs (with opponents hitting .312 and missing on just 18.5 percent of them).
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What about this season? So far, according to Baseball Savant, Marquez has thrown 862 pitches. Of those, he has used his changeup just 2.8 percent of the time. Compare that to the fastball (38.7 percent), slider (23.5 percent), curveball (22.4 percent) and sinker (12.4 percent) and you can see that the changeup is still a pitch in progress.
Marquez talked last offseason about how he has worked to refine his changeup. This spring, while talking about some day hopefully earning a Cy Young, he also mentioned the changeup and how he wants to improve it.
I asked Marquez if he could give me an update now that the 2019 season is past the quarter mark.
“It’s coming along very well,” Marquez told me in an exclusive chat inside the Colorado clubhouse. “I’ve been practicing it in the bullpen. It’s getting better. It’s a building process.”
Colorado manager Bud Black knows that it is indeed a building process and will take some time for Marquez to have complete confidence in the pitch.
“You’re never a finished product,” Black said. “At some point in the next year or two, you’re going to see the changeup come into play versus the left-handed hitter.”
So far, Marquez has thrown just one changeup to a right-handed batter while 23 have come against lefties. Last season, it was 175 of 199 changeups thrown to lefties. It’s easy to see that Marquez and the Rockies believe it can be an effective pitch when developed against left-handed batters.
“I like the combo of the two-seamer and changeup,” Marquez said. “That’s what I throw more to lefties.”
Rockies fans and opponents alike can expect to see this become more of a weapon as Marquez continues to mature on the mound.