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By Acquiring Jason Marquis, the Diamondbacks Indirectly Improve Their Bullpen | July
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On Saturday, the Diamondbacks acquired veteran righthander Jason Marquis from the Washington Nationals for Class A infielder Zach Walters. Marquis will move into the starting rotation on Wednesday against the Giants, and will push either Josh Collmenter or Micah Owings back to the bullpen. Either way, the team's bullpen will be improved, as both Collmenter and Owings have pitched well in relief this year, and either could move into the 7th inning relief role.

Marquis, 32, has a career ERA of 4.52 (ERA+ = 97), and a slightly higher FIP of 4.77 and xFIP of 4.61. He has pitched reasonable well for four of the last five seasons. He was terrible in 2010 (6.62 ERA in 57.2 IP), but has bounced back in 2011 with a 3.95 ERA. He has never been a strikeout pitcher, with a career mark of 5.2K/9, and also has a somewhat high walk rate of 3.5BB/9. What has kept him in the Majors is his Ground Ball rate of 50.3% and a low Home Rate of 1.1HR/9.


Another factor that makes him attractive for the Diamondbacks is his success against teams in the NL West, especially the Giants. In his career, Marquis has a 2.47 ERA against San Francisco over 83.2 IP. He also has good marks against the Dodgers (2.55 ERA), Padres (3.74), and Rockies (3.90). Marquis throws four pitches, a fastball, slider, cutter, and a change-up. His fastball is around 90 mph, and he throws it about half the time. In 2011, he has mixing in his slider around 20% of the time, a change-up 15%, and the cutter around 12%. He has been throwing first pitch strikes at a career best rate of 60.1% in 2011, perhaps helped by the spacious conditions of his home park with the Nationals. His ground ball rate in 2011 is up to 54.1%, good for 8th best in the National League. Marquis also has been getting hitters to swing at pitches out of the strike zone 29% of the time, the best rate of his career.

Moving to the bullpen will be either Joshua Collmenter or Micah Owings. As discussed a few weeks ago, Collmenter's ERA out of the bullpen is much better, 1.29 compared to 3.42 as a starter. And his numbers the first time through a lineup are outstanding, at .139/.173/.213. He had a rough outing in his last start against the Dodgers, but had three consecutive Quality Starts before that. Overall, he has had Quality Starts in 9 out of 14 starts. Micah Owings has only made 3 starts this year (before Saturday's Dodgers game) and has a 2.35 ERA as starter compared to 2.37 as a reliever. Either way, Owings or Collmenter will be a solid addition to the bullpen, which has struggled outside of David Hernandez and J.J. Putz.

Heading to the Nationals will be infielder Zach Walters, a 21 year old playing for South Bend.  Walters was hitting .302/.377/.485 in the Midwest League, but does have 96 strikeouts in 97 games (412 PA, 23.3% K-Rate). Defensively, most scouts feel that Walters will not be able to stick at SS, and may have a future as a utility infielder. He has committed 40 Errors in his first 160 Games, and does not have outstanding range as a shortstop. His bat is certainly intriguing, but he will need to improve his plate discipline as he moves up the ladder. Walters was ranked #26 in our recent mid-season Prospects list.

Overall, this is a decent trade for the Diamondbacks. Walters is not one of the team's top prospects, so the team's main cost will be the $2.5M owed to Marquis for the rest of the season. By moving Marquis into the rotation, the Diamondbacks can move Collmenter back to the bullpen, where he has been most effective. Plus, if Marquis can continue his good work against the Giants, he could help close the gap between the two teams a little bit. The Diamondbacks are still looking to add one more reliever, with many rumors circulating around Brad Ziegler of the A's.