Sean Marshall a Dominating Full-Time Reliever: There's a New Marshall in Town

Ron CoomerContributor IMay 13, 2010

MESA, AZ - MARCH 04:  Releif pitcher Sean Marshall #45 of the Chicago Cubs pitches during the MLB spring training game against the Oakland Athletics at HoHoKam Park on March 4, 2009 in Mesa, Arizona  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Since Carlos Marmol was moved to full-time closer duties, a big question was not how Marmol would perform in the new role, but who would replace him as the set-up man or relief ace role.

Sean Marshall has answered all those questions, dominating opposing offenses as a full-time reliever this year.

Marshall currently sports a sparkling 2.70 ERA in 18 relief appearances, which doesn't show how truly awesome he is pitching, as his Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is sitting at 1.29.

He is striking batters out at a ridiculous 11.34 K/9 clip, and he is hardly walking anyone, leading to an otherworldly 7.00 K/BB.

What, you might ask, is the change from previous years?

Well, for starters, he is using his knee-buckling curve ball 10 percent more this year than in years past, and his average fastball velocity has increased from 87 mph to 89 mph. In addition to eliminating the change-up from his repertoire, he has limited the use of his cutter. This limits him to using his fastball, curve, and slider a good portion of the time, all the while focusing on the effectiveness of those pitches.

It's not even as if Marshall is a left-handed specialist—he's dominating right-handed batters to a .192 average.

Marshall is just one of those pitchers who can turn it up a notch in relief roles, whereas he had to conserve his energy (and relegate to using less effective pitches) as a starter.

Look for Marshall to dominate the seventh and eighth innings just as Marmol has in years past, without the mid-90's heat and frustrating walk rate.