Shawn Marcum is the only significant free agent purchase the New York Mets made during the off-season. He is projected to be a more consistent pitcher than last year’s back-of-the-rotation starter Chris Young. Still, R.A. Dickey was one of a kind; Marcum cannot be expected to single handedly replace his production.
Marcum faced the Miami Marlins live at Tradition Field on March 16 as he warms up in spring training for the 2013 season. He allowed two runs with one walk and five hits, including an RBI triple, and no strikeouts over four innings.
He throws with a low velocity but induces weak groundball contact. Marcum got leadoff-batter Juan Pierre to groundout on two pitches for the first out.
He is effective when he locates his spots with accuracy, but otherwise one poor, slow toss from the veteran pitcher is susceptible to going out of the park. Placido Polanco launched an easy double with one out in the first inning.
The infield must be alert when he is on the mound to take advantage of the weak contact Marcum induces. Marcum is unlikely to strike out many batters at this point in his career, but his changeup is tough to hit for eager, free-swinging hitters. He may have difficulty against a patient lineup, however, if he loses command.
It is not fair, however, to assess Marcum in a game between the two bottom dwellers of the National League East. He may falter against a more powerful lineup; one mistake with a low-to-mid 80 mph fastball and it can get easily get smoked over the fence.
The key to Marcum’s season is staying healthy and eating innings. Otherwise, the Mets will have to rely on Minor League options.