There was surprisingly little fan outcry when the Toronto Blue Jays traded Shaun Marcum to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Brett Lawrie. Sure, Marcum was the team’s Opening Day starter and a leader among his peers, but THE GUY THEY GOT WAS CANADIAN!!!11!
The Canadian part is nice (for business) but Lawrie is a former first round pick who posted more-than-respectable numbers at AA as a 20 year-old. Nothing to sneeze at, even if he does lack a real position. Marcum is a due a raise and a walking injury red flag to some, most sober-minded Jays fans saw this as a giving something to get something.
One thing nobody really doubted: for as long as he is healthy, Shaun Marcum will carve up the National League. Lo and behold, he IS carving up the National League! The crafty right-hander currently ranks 9th in Wins Above Replacement, 10th in innings pitched, and 5th in strikeout to walk ratio (behind THREE Phillies lol).
Marcum sports a 4-1 record and serves as the de-facto Brewers ace while Zack Grienke regains his form after missing the start of the season with injury and Yovanni Gallardo just goes through some good, old-fashioned struggles. Marcum took his strikeout rate to ace territory, whiffing a full K per 9 higher than his career numbers while his walks are near career lows.
Not all is perfect in the Land of Milk and Honey – Marcum is a free agent after next season. Since the Brewers clearly want to contend now, locking up their trio of excellent pitchers young(ish) starters seems like a priority. Pitching wins games, right? Some in Milwaukee are not so sure.
Jim Breen, of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Bernie’s Crew blog, is firmly in the “no thanks on a Marcum extension” camp, judging by his Extend Shaun Marcum: No Thanks post on the paper’s website. Breen cites the previouisly-mentioned injury concerns while expressing doubts over the former Jays ability to maintain his smoke-and-mirrors approach.
Shaun Marcum enjoys a plethora of success on the mound because he can change speeds and gets tons of movement on everything he throws. He keeps the hitters off-balance and also possesses one of the league’s best changeups.
Will that success last as Marcum sees his fastball velocity dip into the low-80s, though? Perhaps, but I am not about to sign a three-to-five year contract extension at $10M+ per year on a guy that “could potentially” remain effective as his stuff declines.
Call me crazy but I think a soft-tosser has a better chance of succeeding as he ages. Changing speeds? Working both sides of the plate? Sounds good to me. As during his time with the Jays, home runs might be a problem for Marcum. The dramatic increase in Marcum’s fly ball rate is enough to scare me, though he’s avoided the dingers early in the season. All things being equal, and health notwithstanding, an artist like Marcum could well pitch into his late-thirties.
In other words…Shaun Marcum is the new Jamie Moyer! Ready your old age jokes, Marcum’s going to be the 2021 Opening Day starter for the defending Pacific Division champion Honolulu Methtrolls!