Shaun Marcum Injury: A Major Concern for the Milwaukee Brewers?

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Shaun Marcum Injury: A Major Concern for the Milwaukee Brewers?
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Shaun Marcum has had a strong 2012 campaign to date (77 strikeouts, 3.39 ERA, 1.17 WHIP in 82 1/3 innings pitched).

Shaun Marcum will miss his scheduled start on Tuesday with elbow concerns. That’s bad news for a number of different reasons.

The first is concerns relative to his trade value.  

Milwaukee is 7.5 games out of first place Cincinnati (38-28), but it spent money this offseason on players like Francisco Rodriguez, Aramis Ramirez and Norichikia Aoki—with the intent that the team would contend in 2012.

That hasn’t happened thus far, though, because players like Rodriguez, Ramirez, Rickie Weeks and Corey Hart haven’t played up to their capabilities (it doesn’t help that they’ve had numerous injuries).

But since the Brewers are a mere 7.5 games back with 95 games to go, there’s plenty of time to make a comeback—especially with talented players under-performing.

But back to Marcum. On the season, he owns a 3.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP with 77 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings. He’s 20th in the National League in strikeouts, 25th in innings pitched and WHIP and 24th in ERA among pitchers that qualify.

The Brewers only have him under contract through this season. If the team opts to be a seller come the deadline, then he could be a very attractive piece to many contenders.

But, that only holds true if Marcum is healthy.

This could all be a minor setback. He misses one start, and we don’t hear anything else about this ever again. But if it turns into a lingering issue…no one will want him.

Marcum missed the entire 2009 season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery. His history with elbow issues will make some teams weary of the 30-year-old.

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The other side of the equation is that the Brewers should be worried about Marcum relative to their success the rest of the season.

As previously mentioned, Marcum’s having a great season. He’s performed like a top-25 pitcher in the National League. And his value is increased on a Brewers team that has had problems with its starting rotation.

Zack Greinke is clearly one of the National League’s best pitchers (3.10 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 89 strikeouts in 87 innings pitched). But Yovani Gallardo, the team’s other “ace,” has had a down season (4.23 ERA, 1.41 WHIP; 83 strikeouts in 83 innings pitched is solid, but not great).

The other two pitchers on the staff haven’t set the world on fire either. Randy Wolf owns a 1.57 WHIP and 5.11 ERA with 48 strikeouts in 81 innings pitched. Chris Narveson, the team’s fifth starter entering the season, is out for the year, after having surgery on the rotator cuff of his throwing shoulder.

The fifth spot in the rotation has been a wild card since then, with Michael Fiers manning the spot since May 29. In four starts he’s struck out 22 batters with a 3.60 ERA and 1.24 WHIP in 25 innings. He’s done well early, but is an unknown commodity.

Which brings us back to Marcum again. The Brewers lost Narveson for the year and the original replacement for the fifth starter (Marco Estrada) is on the disabled list himself.

The Brewers must pray this elbow concern for Marcum is minor, because if it’s serious it eliminates Marcum’s value if he stays or leaves the organization before July 31.

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