MILWAUKEE — A command pitcher without grips on his command is often not a recipe for a good outing on the mound, and on Saturday night, that seemed to be the case for Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum.
Since coming back from shoulder tightness that kept him out of the rotation for around two months, Marcum has struggled mightily with his command—the calling card that made him a top-of-the-rotation guy for the entirety of his career.
But on Saturday night, as has been the case in the other four starts he’s made since returning to the Brewers active roster, Marcum just didn’t have his command.
Brewers manager Ron Roenicke saw the signs early. And after just four innings, in which he gave up four runs, walked two and hit one batter, Marcum again was forced to leave the game early.
“When you’re talking about a guy that’s a command pitcher and he doesn’t have his command, I don’t know what the reason would be,” Roenicke said. “His stuff was good today. The fastball came out real good, but the location, he’s just missing on the location. … I don’t know what it is.”
Luckily for the Brewers, the Milwaukee bullpen continued its stellar run by holding the Mets to just two runs in the next five innings, giving the Brewers a 1-1 series tie heading into Sunday’s rubber match. But without much from Marcum since he’s returned, the Brewers may have reason to be concerned for the remainder of their contending stretch.
Since making his first start back on August 25, Marcum has allowed at least three runs in each start, and on four occasions, he’s allowed four runs. And only once has he lasted past the fifth inning.
His early hook on Saturday was a decision he wouldn’t have made though.
“We’re only down 4-2 at the time, threw 85 pitches,” Marcum said, “I thought I should’ve been in the game, but it wasn’t my call.”
Instead, Marcum was replaced by outfielder Logan Schafer in the batting order, and Schafer responded with a huge pinch-hit triple that sparked the Milwaukee offense. In the end, it was a decision that paid dividends for Roenicke.
But Marcum remained insistent that his outing wasn’t nearly as bad as the box score may make it out to be. In fact, he said he hadn’t felt that good since returning from the elbow tightness that kept him on the mend.
“Today is probably the best I’ve felt prior to the injury in a long, long time,” Marcum said. “The ball was coming out really well today. My changeup was back to how I used to throw it. Like I said, it was a couple RBI on some good pitches, but other than that, I thought I threw the ball all right.”
The Brewers may need a little something more from Marcum, though, if he plans on being the veteran presence they need to give their offense chances down the stretch. After lasting more than 100 pitches in six of his eight performances before going on the disabled list, Marcum has lasted more than 90 pitches in just one start.
But without the aid of his normally stellar command, Marcum may struggle through more starts like he did on Saturday night.