To say that Shaun Marcum struggled on Monday against the Texas Rangers would be an understatement. It was a very bad afternoon for Marcum, as he gave up seven earned runs in just 2 2/3 innings. He was coming of a fantastic start, one in which he gave up two runs on just four hits over 6 2/3 innings. So what went wrong for Marcum against the Rangers?
I figured I would take a closer look at Marcum's first inning, evaluating each pitch thrown, looking especially for command and location. The Rangers put up a three spot in the first, and let's look to see if it was an inning full of Marcum mistakes or just plain good hitting from Texas.
First Batter: Delino DeShields
Pitch 1: Called strike, 86 mph four seam fastball. Solid pitch on inner half to the right-handed DeShields.
Pitch 2: Swinging strike, 83 mph cutter. DeShields chased here, as pitch had a little run on it. The target (Roberto Perez was behind the plate) was set up on the outside corner, so no issues here.
Pitch 3: Ball, 80 mph changeup. Lots of sink on this changeup and in a good spot, down but over the plate.
Pitch 4: Called strike, 81 mph changeup. This locked up DeShields but was up in the zone too much. A bit lucky here.
Second Batter: Shin-Soo Choo
Four pretty ugly pitches here, all outside and three of the four up. None were particularly close to the zone, including a really slow 76 mph changeup for ball two. Choo takes the walk.
Third Batter: Prince Fielder
Pitch 9: Called strike, 86 mph four seam fastball. Marcum hit his target, which was right down the middle and thigh high. A get-me-over first pitch strike.
Pitch 10: Home run, 80 mph changeup. Absolute meatball right down Broadway and Fielder made Marcum pay. The target was outside and down. It's a bad pitch that good hitters take advantage of time and time again.
Fourth Batter: Adrian Beltre
Pitch 11: Called strike, 84 mph cutter. Good spot with this pitch, hitting target on inner half of the plate and staying down in the zone.
Pitch 12: Called strike, 85 mph cutter. Marcum hits his target again and gets a bit of a generous call from the home plate umpire.
Pitch 13: Ball, 87 mph four seam fastball. Purpose pitch on 0-2 that was up and in. No issues here.
Pitch 14: Home run, 84 mph cutter. The opposite of the Fielder home run, as this pitch was not bad at all. It's down and just below the knees, right where Perez was set up. Unfortunately, Beltre has 400+ of these home run things and does a great job of going down and driving this cutter.
Fifth Batter: Josh Hamilton
Pitch 15: Called strike, 87 mph four seam fastball. Marcum hit his target (smack in the middle of the plate) and kept this down in the zone. Hittable, but decent enough.
Pitch 16: Foul, 85 mph cutter. Solid run on this cutter that got in and on the hands of Hamilton.
Pitch 17: Ball, 87 mph four seam fastball. Another 0-2 purpose pitch that was up and off the plate.
Pitch 18: Swinging strike, 81 mph changeup. Plenty of sink here on this changeup (9 inches from release to the plate) and Hamilton swings over the top. Good pitch.
Sixth Batter: Mitch Moreland
Pitch 19: Ground ball out, 85 mph cutter. Pitch that is on target and gets in on Moreland, who hits a solid ground ball right at Jason Kipnis.
To summarize, Marcum allowed three runs and dug himself a hole here in the first inning. This is a great example of how a few poor pitches can be very costly. The walk to Choo was bad, as Marcum's command went haywire resulting in four straight balls, and then came the horrible changeup that Fielder crushed. Beltre's home run was more a case of a talented hitter doing his thing. We've also got another changeup up in the zone to DeShields that could have been trouble, some solid cutters in on the Rangers' hands, and get-me-over four seamers to start at-bats.
Ultimately, after watching these 19 pitches about five times each, along with the rest of his outing, it's clear that Marcum has to be sharp and hit his spots to be effective. He's pretty much the opposite of Salazar, who at times can get away with just huge velocity and timely breaking balls. This isn't rocket science or some amazing finding on a veteran pitcher who can't crack 90 mph on the radar gun, but is nonetheless still the simple truth.