If you haven’t taken notice of what German Marquez has been doing, it’s time for you to rectify that.
Marquez posted another dominant effort Monday in the Rockies’ 13-2 blowout win over the Diamondbacks, fanning 11 while yielding just two runs – one earned – across seven brilliant innings. He permitted six hits – five singles – and one walk as Colorado extended their lead in the National League West to 1.5 games.
It was the third straight double-digit strikeout game for Marquez and the second one that came at Coors Field (it’s nearly four straight, as he had nine punchouts four outings ago). The young right-hander now has 195 strikeouts across 171 1/3 innings this season.
Marquez’s dominance dates back to his final outing of June. After hold an 8.53 ERA in his first five starts that month, he tossed eight frames of one-run ball in his sixth June outing. That started the beginning of a run that’s seen him go 7-1 while posting a 2.45 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 111/18 K/BB ratio over 88 1/3 innings. If you shrink it down to his last nine starts, he holds a 2.13 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and 83/13 K/BB ratio across his last 63 1/3 frames.
Six of the 13 starts and five of the nine starts were at Coors Field and three of his four double-digit strikeout games were at home. So this hasn't been some stretch where he's just had a lucky draw of road starts.
Marquez’s next start will come this weekend in San Francisco at AT&T Park, the most favorable pitcher’s venue in the majors. He’ll be facing a Giants team that ranks 26th in baseball in runs scored, is without Buster Posey (hip) and has lost nine straight games. Giddy up.
Verlander Tames Tigers
Justin Verlander shut down his former team on Monday and in the process he and a current teammate made history.
Verlander limited the Tigers to just two runs over seven innings and fanned 10 batters along the way in the Astros’ 3-2 victory. He allowed six hits and one walk on the night and threw 104 pitches before handing it over to Ryan Pressly and Roberto Osuna to finish things out.
The 10 punchouts pushed Verlander’s total for the season to 258, which leads the American League. He joined rotation mate Gerrit Cole (251) at the 250-strikeout plateau, as the two right-handers are the first teammates to strike out 250+ batters in a season since Randy Johnson (334) and Curt Schilling (316) did it way back in 2002. Cole will start Wednesday in Detroit and will have a chance to move back into the AL lead.
It’s the fourth time in his career that Verlander has gotten to 250 whiffs and he’s just 11 shy of his career high of 269 strikeouts, which he set back in 2009. With three starts likely remaining, he’s obviously going to cruise past that number.
Verlander has punched out double-digit batters 10 times this season, setting a new career high for 10+ strikeout games. His ERA hasn’t been higher than 278 all year. Did I mention that he’s 35?
Cards Commit to Martinez as Closer; D-backs Commit to No One
The Cardinals have a new closer. It’s their Opening Day starter.
Having dealt with a pair of shoulder injuries and an oblique ailment, Carlos Martinez was brought back in late August as a reliever by the Cards with the idea that he’s have a better chance of staying healthy and contributing out of the bullpen down the stretch. He’s performed well in the role, allowing just two runs on six hits with a 9/4 K/BB ratio over 10 1/3 innings across nine appearances.
With Bud Norris struggling of late, Martinez has picked up saves in each of his last three appearances, including on Monday in a comeback victory over the Pirates. After Martinez’s save on Sunday in Detroit, manager Mike Shildt said that the team’s former ace would remain in the closer role for the time being.
“I think you can expect Carlos to get ... the ninth inning right now and Bud reshuffled,” Shildt said.
The presumed favorite to take over closing duties for St. Louis when it looked like they would go away from Norris appeared to be rookie fireballer Jordan Hicks. However, like Norris, Hicks has struggled lately, posting a 4.66 ERA with nine walks over his last 9 2/3 innings covering 11 appearances. It makes sense to keep him in a setup role and handing the ninth inning to Martinez, who is full capable of being a lockdown closer down the stretch if he can stay healthy.
Another National League contender has also made a move with their closer role, but their situation isn’t as cut-and-dried.
Brad Boxberger was rocked for three runs as he melted down in a save opportunity Sunday against the Braves. It was the third shaky appearance in four September outings for the reliever and was apparently the last straw for Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo, who announced Monday that Boxberger would be removed from the closer gig and he would play matchups in the ninth inning for now.
"It's going to be done by matchup and trying to get through the situation the best that we can based on the hitters that are coming up and based on who's available in the bullpen," Lovullo said. "We've got to get there first, and once we get there you're probably going to see a variety of guys finishing the game for us."
Lovullo didn’t mention any specific players that he planned to use to close out games. However, the obvious candidates are Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano, with Brad Ziegler, Andrew Chafin and Jake Diekman also potentially in the mix. There’s also the possibility that Boxberger works his way back into consideration, although that surely wouldn’t happen for a while. He can be dropped in fantasy leagues.
Bradley is probably the guy to prioritize in fantasy leagues. He’s been the primary setup man the last two seasons, has mostly been excellent and has notched three saves in 2018 on days when Boxberger was unavailable. However, Hirano should receive real consideration, especially if Lovullo would prefer to have Bradley available for multiple innings earlier in the game as he’s shown himself capable of providing.
American League Quick Hits: Aaron Judge took on-field batting practice Monday for the first time since suffering a chip fracture in his right wrist … Gary Sanchez went 3-for-5 with a solo homer and a pair of runs scored in the Yankees' rout of the Twins on Monday … Corey Kluber surrendered four runs and lasted just 1 2/3 innings, matching the shortest start of his career, in a no-decision against the Rays on Monday … Trevor Bauer (leg) is tentatively slated to throw a bullpen session Wednesday … Jose Abreu went 3-for-4 with a run scored in the White Sox' extra-inning loss to the Royals on Monday in his return from the disabled list … Tyler Skaggs (groin) is close to rejoining the Angels' rotation … Elvis Andrus indicated Monday that he will not exercise the opt-out clause in his contract … Luke Voit has been dealing with back stiffness for a couple days and didn’t play Monday … Albert Pujols -- who was already out for the season following knee surgery -- will undergo surgery on Wednesday to remove bone spurs from his right elbow … The Blue Jays announced Sunday that concussion tests on Randal Grichuk came back negative … Mike Minor fanned three while tossing six innings of one-run ball in Monday’s win over the Angels … J.A. Happ struck out three across six shutout frames Monday in Minnesota ...
National League Quick Hits: David Dahl went 2-for-5 with a grand slam in a rout of the Diamondbacks on Monday … Sean Newcomb allowed just an unearned run over six innings while fanning eight in a win over the Giants on Monday … Lorenzo Cain went 4-for-5 with a run scored in the Brewers' 3-2 win over the Cubs on Monday … Jon Lester departed Monday’s start versus the Brewers with back spasms but expects to be ready for his next outing … Scooter Gennett went 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored in the Reds' win over the Dodgers on Monday … Cardinals general manager Michael Girsch said Monday that they hope to get Yadier Molina (hamstring) back sometime during this week's homestand … Kyle Schwarber is still dealing with a back injury and is expected to be sidelined for at least another day or two … Chris Taylor finished 2-for-4 with a home run, a walk, two RBI, and two runs scored Monday in the Dodgers' loss to the Reds … Arodys Vizcaino (shoulder) will be activated from the disabled list Friday … Michael Wacha (oblique) has been ruled out for the season …