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  1. I remember Greg Maddux once saying that the most important pitch of most PAs (for him, obviously) was the 1-1 pitch. That the difference between 2-1 and 1-2 drastically changed the way he’d approach the rest of the PA more so than any other account.

    Just supporting the point that different pitchers will approach counts in different ways, and it’s not necessarily one-size-fits-all.

    Comment by Temo — September 10, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  2. Great article, Dave. I had taken note of those splits, too. As a ubs fan, Marshall has been fun to watch this year. The tilt he gets on his curve is perhaps unique in the game today.

    In 2004, a guy named Bill Felber wrote a book in which he noted that, aside from the increased likelihood of a walk, batters don’t actually get that much better as they get substantially ahead in the count. Felber postulated that most hitters hit best when they make contact on either the first or second pitch. I wonder if Marshall, by using his best pitches–his fastball has always been mostly for show–earlier in the count than most, has found a way to exploit Felber’s findings.

    Comment by Matt Trueblood — September 10, 2010 @ 12:34 pm

  3. Awesome article. Pitcher’s game theory is fascinating.

    Comment by Locke — September 10, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  4. I’ve been pretty upset with Cubs management for not giving Marshall more of a chance to start (not saying he’s not been given any chances, but he’s always gone back and forth between roles, and honestly I have more important reasons to be upset with Cubs management), but I’ve been really impressed by how he’s taken to full-time relief this year with little complaint and big results. That said, I hope he gets another chance at starting next year.

    Comment by Michael — September 10, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  5. This is exactly how J.P. Howell became a great reliever a couple years ago.

    Comment by Jonathan — September 10, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

  6. I’ve seen Marshall start enough to arrive at the belief that he’s probably worth the same as an 8th inning setup guy as he would be as a 3rd/4th starter, which is what he’d probably be limited to. Much as right-handed sinkerballers occasionally stink up the joint Just Because, soft tossing lefties are prone to the same predicament. This is especially true against power-driven, right-handed lineups, who can tee off against anything less than his best.

    Marshall has been worth about 2 WAR this season, having spent one month as a middle man and four months as the 8th inning guy on a losing team. Imagine if the Cubs’ offense and starting staff could have been healthy and/or consistent: he and Marmol might be worth 6+ WAR rather than their current 4.5 total.

    Marshall probably can’t close with his kind of stuff. In 59 career starts (most in his first 2 seasons, 2006 and 2007), he averaged 5.1 IP with a 1.43 WHIP and a 6.1 K/9. As a reliever, in 147 games, he has a 1.27 WHIP and a 9.3 K/9. We’re also looking at 0.66 HR/9 as a reliever, versus 1.30 HR/9 as a starter.

    He has pitched 311 innings as a starter and 137.2 in relief over 5 seasons. Heading into his final year of arbitration, both the Cubs and Marshall might need to really think of his talents on par with other “true” setup men like Mike Adams, Matt Thornton and Ryan Madson.

    Comment by Dann M — September 10, 2010 @ 10:18 pm

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