Unfortunately an awful finish to the 2011 season is going to be what people remember from Shaun Marcum. That's a shame, because he was really pretty consistently good until September 1:
When we reviewed the first half of the 2011 season, I asked Jordan if any Brewer pitcher would have a second half as good as Marcum's first half. At that point Marcum's ERA was under 3, he was striking out more than eight batters per nine innings and walking under 2.5. He was one of the reasons the Brewers were able to hold things together when Zack Greinke missed April and Yovani Gallardo struggled early.
Despite the fact that Marcum typically doesn't throw a lot of pitches, he threw six or more innings in 13 straight starts from April 7 until June 17, and 12 of 13 again from July 4 through September 9. Unfortunately, it looks like there's a strong chance those innings caught up to him down the stretch.
Marcum missed the entire 2009 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, and threw 195.1 frames for the Blue Jays in 2010. Including three playoff starts, he threw 211.1 in 2011. Many of the lasting memories from his late season fade came as he was approaching or after he'd passed his previous career high. For his part, Marcum said he felt fine in his late season outings. But his results obviously were anything but fine.
Whether Marcum was worn out, injured, not pitching well or just unlucky down the stretch this season, he's going to have a tough hill to climb with this team in 2012. Fair or unfair, he's going to be labeled as one of the players who cost this team a shot at the World Series and it's going to take more than a good start or two to make people get past that. Hopefully he comes to camp motivated, in great shape and ready to prove his doubters wrong.
On May 6, the Brewers were six games under .500 at 13-19 and in fifth place in the NL Central. They turned it around pretty quickly from there, though, winning 10 of their next 14 to get back to .500. On Saturday, May 21 they sent Marcum to the mound just a few hours removed from an intense, 14th inning walkoff victory and he kept the momentum going. The Brewers gave him two runs in the first and Marcum took it from there, allowing just one run on four hits over eight inning, walking two and striking out eight. John Axford allowed a run in the ninth but still recorded the save in a 3-2 victory to get the Brewers to 23-23.
From there, the Brewers went 15-5 over their next 20 games and took sole possession of first place for the first time on June 12.
Here are the highlights from Marcum's performance: