Marquez forced to rely on fastball

Marquez forced to rely on fastball

PHOENIX -- The problem for Rockies rookie right-hander German Marquez was that his fastball -- which was all he had -- was not good Wednesday night.

The result was his second straight short outing. Marquez yielded 11 hits, including five doubles, in 3 2/3 innings of an 8-2 loss to the D-backs at Chase Field.

"My breaking ball was not really sharp," said Marquez (10-7). "My breaking ball was not really sharp, and I became a one-pitch pitcher, pretty much."

Marquez's rough night ended the Rockies' win streak at six games. The Rockies are in the lead for the second National League Wild Card spot and trail the D-backs, who hold the top spot, by four games. Even more, Wednesday's result meant the D-backs clinch the season series, which means the Rockies will have to overtake them in the standings outright to host the Wild Card Game, as head-to-head record is the first tiebreaker. The Rockies are three games ahead of the Brewers and 3 1/2 ahead of the Cardinals -- their closest NL Wild Card competitors.

According to Statcast™, Marquez threw fastballs on 77 percent of his 70 pitches on Wednesday -- his highest rate this season. All but one of the hits came on a fastball. Of those fastballs for hits, just two were on the border of the strike zone; the rest caught too much of the plate to be effective.

J.D. Martinez doubled off a third-inning curve, which hung in the strike zone and helped convince Marquez that he had to throw fastballs and hope.

"You can get away with throwing all fastballs if you locate and you move it around the zone, but from my vantage point, there were some balls thigh high and a little bit higher, and it looked like they were out over the plate," Rockies manager Bud Black said.

Is this a pattern for Marquez, who is 22 but for much of the year has pitched as if he's been around longer?

This is his second straight abbreviated start. He went just four innings Friday and yielded four runs (two earned) and six hits in the Rockies' eventual 5-4 victory. While there was something to be said for giving up just four runs despite the heavy hit total Wednesday, the concern is that a pattern is developing.

The D-backs went 5-for-14 on decision-pitch fastballs. Opponents' batting averages against the fastball were .264 in April and May, .280 in June and July and .350 since Aug. 1. Of course, if he has his curve and changeup he can use those as put-away pitches.

Marquez said his problems are based in execution, not fatigue -- even though this is his first September as a rotation member and he's pitching in a playoff race.

"I just haven't gotten it done," he said. "It's as simple as that."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.