DENVER — After an unusual beginning to the season, German Marquez will make his 2017 debut for the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday with a start against the Washington Nationals.
The right-hander officially will be recalled Tuesday from Triple-A Albuquerque to fill the fifth spot in the Rockies’ rotation. After Jon Gray sustained a left foot stress fracture in April 13 start, the Rockies were able to go with four starters because of two off days last week.
Marquez will oppose the Nationals for the first time in his career, and his mound opponent, Washington right-hander Joe Ross will face the Rockies for the first time as the teams play the second game of a four-game series. Colorado took the opener 8-4 on Monday behind homers from Mark Reynolds and Charlie Blackmon.
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Marquez, 22, made his major league debut Sept. 8. He was in competition for a spot in the Rockies’ Opening Day rotation but lost out to Kyle Freeland and Antonio Senzatela. However, when Chris Rusin (right oblique) began the season on the disabled list, Marquez took his spot in the bullpen as a long reliever.
He was with the Rockies for six games but didn’t pitch, then was optioned to Albuquerque on April 9. He made a relief appearance for Albuquerque followed by two starts. In those three games, Marquez went 0-0 with a 2.70 ERA and no walks and 18 strikeouts in 10 innings. He threw 75 pitches in his last start Thursday, and the Rockies anticipate he will be able to throw 90 against the Nationals.
“He’s commanding the baseball,” Rockies pitching coach Steve Foster said, “and that’s critical for him, especially with his curveball. His curveball is the equalizer because it’s got a lot of depth, it’s hard. And when you have that combination, you’ve got to be able to land it for a strike.
“If he can land that pitch for a strike, he’s a tough guy, because he’s an upper 90s guy and has got enough (speed) variation to where guys can’t time him up. And he was able to do that in Triple-A. He got the innings that we needed him to get, and he was ready when his name was called.”
Foster said Marquez’s changeup is still a work in progress but is improving.
“It’s something that we want him throwing with velocity, not backing off on throwing the pitch,” Foster said. “And when he does that, it’s going to be an effective pitch. And it’s starting to show signs of it.”
Ross (1-0, 3.86 ERA) will be pitching Tuesday with one additional day of rest. He gave up six hits and three runs in seven innings with one walk and seven strikeouts Wednesday at Atlanta in a 14-4 victory.
The Nationals got six innings Monday from Jacob Turner in a spot start. Turner’s effort came after starts of eight, 6 1/3, 6 2/3 and seven innings in the previous four innings, all of which kept the Washington bullpen intact — no small thing at the outset of a series at Coors Field.
“What you don’t want to happen is to come in here with a tired bullpen and limping,” Nationals manager Dusty Baker said before the Monday game, “because you know you leave out of here, what usually does (occur) is a tired bullpen and limping because then we got to play the Mets (on Friday) with a day off when we get back home.
“So you always plan before and after Colorado when see that on the schedule. It’s been like that for years, and fortunately for me, I was in this division with them a long time (while managing San Francisco). Quite a few nights, I didn’t sleep after the game. If I did celebrate, it was a close call at the end of some nights.”