Say Hello To Our Old Friend, Jason Marquis

You might be surprised to see who the Cardinals will be facing tonight when they play the Cincinnati Reds for the first of their 19 games this season. Jason Marquis.

World Series: Red Sox v Cardinals Game 4Yes, he is returning to the majors after most recently pitching on July 19, 2013, for the Padres. He had Tommy John surgery later that season, and pitched in eight games for the Phillies Triple A team last year.

It seems like forever since he was on the Cardinals back in 2004-2006 but I certainly haven’t forgotten the frustration of watching him pitch. (Have you?) Actually, he was fairly good in 2004 with a 15-7 record (one of four Cards starters to win 15+ games that season) and a 3.71 ERA.

And then came 2005. He started out decently, but somewhere in that July/August period where he lost seven straight games and went from a 9-6 record and 3.78 ERA to a 9-13 record and 4.67 ERA that my friend Michael coined the phrase “Guaranteed Loss Night” for his starts. He finished the season with a 13-14 record, 4.13 ERA and gave up 29 homers in 33 games. One (the only?) bright spot: he was good at the plate, as Mark Tomasik reminds us at RetroSimba today, and won the Silver Slugger award that season.

Then there was 2006. Yes, obviously the Cardinals won the World Series. But remember that awful month of September leading up to the playoffs? Marquis’ 0-4 record in five starts and 7.25 ERA certainly played a role. For the year, he was 14-16 with a 6.02 ERA … and did not pitch in October.

Thankfully, perhaps, he took his World Series ring and moved on — first to the Cubs, then the Rockies, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Twins and Padres. He was an All-Star in 2009. And now he’s with the Reds.

What’s the reaction of Reds fans? Well, here’s what one wrote in a Red Reporter post titled “Jason Marquis wins roster spot, Reds’ fans collectively crinkle noses” on March 18:

I’m fully aware of how one could make waaaaaaaay too much of this. In fact, I think I probably am. But considering that, I think even a steady and measured analysis of this would result in the conclusion that this does not look good for a Reds’ team that is supposedly trying to make a playoff run.

Jason Marquis did not pitch in the majors last season. He struggled through about 50 innings in the Phillies’ organization. The last time he did anything that could be construed as successful in the majors was in 2009 when he posted a 4.10 FIP for the Rockies in 216 innings. That was 2009. That was six years ago. For some perspective, Barack Obama’s hair was still black. Joey Votto was still an up-and-comer. Twitter was still a novelty.

Welcome back to the majors, Jason!

If you’re wondering how he’s fared against the Cardinals through the years, he’s won six games and lost three with a 4.15 ERA. The last time he faced them with his most recent big league start on July 19, 2013. He gave up six earned runs in 5.1 innings, and Jake Westbrook owned him that night — he had two singles and a double, scored two runs and drove in one as the Cardinals won 9-6 (though Westbrook only gave up as many runs as he scored).

As for tonight’s Cardinals starter, John Lackey will be facing the Reds for the fifth time in his career. He’s gone 2-0 in the previous four games, allowing six earned runs in 21.2 innings while striking out 17.

Game time is 6:10 p.m. Central. And we’ll see just what Jason Marquis can do back in the big leagues.

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