Originally written on Around Citi  |  Last updated 11/19/14
What is to become of Shaun Marcum? The true question is how much of a leash do you give him?  He is likely around at this point as trade bait.  But can that be allowed to stand if he pitches poorly?  Firstly, we should ignore the win/loss record.  Anyone who listens to our corresponding show, “Around Citi Live” will know that wins are a circumstantial stat at best, and do not accurately depict a pitcher’s ability on the mound.  It is a traditional stat that should slowly be phased out.  A perfect example is Matt Harvey’s only loss this season, which came to the Cardinals earlier this month.  However, while he got the loss, he hardly gave a losing effort as he only allowed one run and struck out seven in seven innings of work.  Now, moving to more comprehensive and more contemporary metrics, one stat that we at Around Citi have come to be big fans of “FIP” or “fielding independent pitching.”  Essentially, this stat is measured on a similar scale to ERA, with anything better/lower than a 2.90 being considered excellent, and all star standards, with an average FIP holding a spot on the scale at around 4.00 (according to fangraphs).  This stat will measure how a pitcher performs based on things he can control, i.e. once a ball is hit and becomes the responsibility of the defense (assuming it’s not a home run) it is out of the control of the pitcher and therefore, it will not hinder a pitcher’s FIP.  Having had that little summer class session, let’s now apply it to Marcum.  After last night, his ERA, a traditional metric, jumped to 5.76, which is considered abysmal.  I won’t be nice about that one, sorry Shaun.  However, looking at his FIP, he is well above average having an FIP of 3.27.  Marcum has always been a control guy, similar to Dillon Gee.  He isn’t going to overwhelm with his fastball.  Instead he’ll locate his pitches, and make batters look like idiots will his off-speed pitches.  And he has still managed to do that.  He is walking only about 6% of batter he faces, while striking out and average of eight batters per nine innings.  Even with the lack of a league average defense behind, Marcum is still managing a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitcher) of 1.33, which is considered league average.  Based on the in depth metrics that are widely used in today’s player scouting, Marcum is still at least a back end of the rotation caliber pitcher.  However, at first glance, the two or three numbers that are presented on the little display at the start of every game do not show that.  Mets fans, take it for what it is.  Marcum is a good pitcher.  He isn’t great, but he isn’t terrible either.  With a little extra run support, and an average defense behind him, the widely accepted perception of the 2013 Shaun Marcum would be very different.  Keep in mind that in games that Marcum has started, he has had an average of 1.67 runs scored for him, while still on the mound.  In other words, if Marcum gives a “Quality Start” being at least six innings pitched, with no more than three earned runs allowed, he is still in line for a loss, almost every time.
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