In 15 days, all the Nationals diehards will be preparing to head to Nationals Park on Opening Day. Until then, we're going to predict the 25 man roster. With one catch. We're going to do it one day at a time. This way, we can provide more in depth thoughts on who we think is going to make the roster, why we think so, and what to expect from them in 2011. On the morning of Opening Day, we'll post the real 25-man compared with what we predicted.
Today's 25-man roster invitee is Jason Marquis.
Why?: I know some thought it was weird that we didn't include Marquis earlier in the process, but we wanted to see how he progressed throughout the spring, to see how he recovered from injury, and to see how he moved forward from the worst season of his career. In a word, we'd qualify Marquis' progress as "wow."
This spring, Marquis leads all Nats pitchers with 12 innings pitched, has given up fewer hits than any of the potential starting pitchers (6), and has allowed just 1 earned run. He's struck out 8 and walked just 3. These are "back to his old form" numbers for Marquis, who is coming off a season marred by injuries and a few horrific outings.
Where there was once nervousness, we are extremely excited to see Marquis back in his prime. While in Viera for spring training, we got to see Marquis giving Rule 5 draftee Brian Broderick some tips along the way. He looked confident and strong while throwing, and is poised to help Livan with his role of veteran pitcher/coach during the season.
What to expect?: Despite our prior concerns, we think there's a chance you might see one of the best years of his career, if he can stay healthy. The best year of Jason's career was 2009 in Colorado, not exactly known as a pitcher-friendly ballpark. He posted a 15-13 record with a 4.04 ERA and 216 innings pitched. He seemed to be getting better year after year until he was crushed by an elbow injury in 2010.
Now, the 32-year old is still in the prime of his career, but it seems like he knows he's on the tail end of his absolute best "stuff." We completely expect Marquis to take advantage of that, plus the fact that he's in a contract year and needs to prove, both to the Nationals and to other teams looking for a veteran starter, that the $15 million over two years that the Nats spent on him were worth it. We think he'll do just that in 2011.