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Should Blue Jays Marcum Down?


Apr. 4, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Shaun Marcum (18) throws during the second inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIREBlue Jays fans, you remember Shaun Marcum right?

The right-hander spent 5 seasons in a Toronto uniform, accumulating a record of 37-25 with a 3.85 ERA over 120 appearances and 95 starts. His performance in 2010 helped facilitate a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers that netted Brett Lawrie in return.

Now, at 30-years-old and after 2 seasons in Milwaukee, Marcum is set to become a free agent for the first time. So naturally, Marcum has indicated that he would not mind returning to his roots and coming back to Toronto.

The question is, would the Blue Jays benefit from a return engagement?

The problem with Marcum has never been his stuff, as both his control and his strike-out rates are solid at 2.8 BB/9 and 7.3 K/9 respectively. He has a respectable life-time ERA of 3.76 and a 1.224 WHIP.

No, the problem with Marcum has been keeping him on the mound. While he was showing that he was turning a corner after successfully throwing close to 200 innings in both 2009 and 2010, Marcum made just 21 starts in 2012 and logged just 124 innings. He spent the second half of June through the first half of August on the 60-day disabled list with an elbow injury, but successfully avoided surgery.

In 8 starts after his return from the DL, Marcum posted a 2-1 record with 4.32 ERA.

That all said, the Blue Jays have a need to upgrade their starting pitching in 2013. Marcum would represent such an upgrade, and would allow the Blue Jays to give Henderson Alvarez some time in the minors to work on his pitch repertoire.

Considering the dearth of pitching on the market this winter, one has to figure that Marcum will be looking for at least a modest raise from the $7.725 million he made in 2012. Still, he should represent a cheaper option to the pipe dream that is Zack Greinke or Dan Haren, should the Angels choose to not pick up his option.

The trick will be getting past the injury concerns, especially considering Toronto’s need for an ace-caliber pitcher. Marcum might be a good secondary option, but he will never fit that bill for the Blue Jays, especially if you cannot count on him to take the ball every 5th day.

What’s more likely is that Toronto, if they choose to add him, still make a play on the trade market, as it is fairly obvious they will not find what they need in free agency.