10/03/11 11:05 PM ET
Road start of no concern for Marcum in Game 3
With history in AL East, righty no stranger to pressure situations
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Marcum has never taken the hill on the October stage before, but he does have plenty of experience that he can lean on. His time in Toronto taught him how to deal with the brutal conditions of the American League East.
"It definitely prepares you," Marcum said during Monday's workout at Chase Field, where he will face the D-backs in Game 3 of the National League Division Series on Tuesday night. "Any time you go into Yankee Stadium or Fenway Park and get yelled at by a bunch of 8-years-old and grownups cussing at you, it definitely prepares you.
"Whether we're playing at Yankee Stadium or playing here or Milwaukee, it doesn't matter. You have to put that all aside and go out and play baseball. Doing all that, locating pitches, that's my main priority. I can't let the atmosphere or the fans get to me."
If Marcum succeeds in that regard, he will have a chance to send the Brewers -- up 2-0 in this best-of-five pairing -- to their first postseason series win since 1982. Given Marcum's history in the AL East, and his showing this season with the Brewers, Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke has plenty of faith in the right-hander.
"This is a guy that can stop a big-time offense," Roenicke said. "He certainly did it a lot of times in the American League East. Those lineups there, with Boston and New York, you don't get any better than that. I have a lot of confidence in what he does."
- 2011 Regular Season
- Overall: 33 GS, 13-7, 3.54 ERA, 57 BB, 158 K
- Overall: 24, GS 10-10, 3.38 ERA, 28 BB, 100 K
- Key stat: .232 opp BA (8th in NL among starters)
- Key stat: 1.07 WHIP, fifth in NL (min. 100 IP)
- At Chase Field
- 2011: n/a
- 2011: 12 GS, 3.30, 9-4
Career: 12 GS, 3.30, 9-4
- Against this opponent
- 2011: 1 GS, 0-0, 6.00
Career: 2 GS, 1-0, 5.73
- 2011: 2 GS, 1-0, 0.00
Career: 2 GS, 1-0, 0.00
- Loves to face: Willie Bloomquist,
Hates to face: Justin Upton, 2-for-6
- Loves to face: Rickie Weeks, 0-for-6
Hates to face: Prince Fielder, 2-for-5
- Game breakdown
- Why he'll win: 2-0, 0.60 in last two road starts (1 ER, 15 innings, 15 K, 0 BB)
- Why he'll win: Hasn't allowed a run to Brewers in two starts (14 innings)
- Pitcher beware: Gave up season-high seven runs on 10 hits in last start
- Pitcher beware: Ryan Braun wasn't in Brewers lineup during Collmenter's starts
- Bottom line: Road warrior
- Bottom line: Rookie on the rise
Roenicke and Marcum are both in Milwaukee uniforms for the first time this year, but they have a history as competitors. In his time as bench coach for the Angels, Roenicke watched from the opposing dugout as Marcum -- the Opening Day starter for the Blue Jays in 2010 -- used his pinpoint command and dancing changeup to baffle hitters.
On Nov. 2, the Brewers hired Roenicke as the team's new manager. One month and four days later, Milwaukee sent Brett Lawrie to Toronto and brought Marcum to Milwaukee in an old-fashioned one-for-one swap. It was later, on Dec. 19, that the Brewers also completed a trade with the Royals to reel in Zack Greinke.
Milwaukee knew that Marcum's reliability could go a long way in stabilizing its rotation.
"I saw him a little bit last year," Roenicke said, "and a lot the years before. This is a quality pitcher."
This year, for the NL Central-champion Brewers, the 29-year-old Marcum went 13-7 with a 3.54 ERA in 33 outings, during which he fashioned a 1.16 WHIP and surpassed 200 innings in a season for the first time. That matched his win total from 2010, when Marcum logged 195 1/3 innings after missing all of '09 due to a right elbow injury.
Aside from that lost 2009 campaign -- a year he spent recovering from Tommy John surgery -- Marcum has proved consistent. For his career, Marcum boasts an identical 25-16 record at home and on the road, but his teams had never tasted the playoffs until now.
Marcum has limited experience (two career starts) against Arizona, but he is plenty familiar with a few of the D-backs' hitters. Arizona infielders Aaron Hill, Ryan Roberts, Lyle Overbay and John McDonald were all teammates of Marcum's with the Blue Jays.
Marcum's only previous outing at Chase Field came on May 23 a year ago, when Hill, Overbay and McDonald were all in the infield behind him for the Blue Jays. Roberts and Marcum were roommates during their days with Triple-A Syracuse.
"I'm glad to see those guys over here," Marcum said. "They play the game hard and play the game the right way. I got drafted with Aaron and Ryan [in 2003], and we all came up together. Lyle and Johnny Mac, they were obviously in Toronto when I got there, and kind of took me under their wing. They're great guys.
"To see those guys on the other side, to get a chance to play in the postseason and experience this, you wish them the best of luck."
Until they settle into the batter's box.
"We are friends, but not right now," Marcum said. "We've got to win, and that's the most important thing right now."
Pitching in Arizona might actually give Marcum a slight edge, too. There is no denying Marcum's success away from Miller Park.
Marcum went 5-4 with a 4.81 ERA in 17 home games this season, compared to an 8-3 record with a tidy 2.21 ERA in 16 road appearances. His only outing against the D-backs this season fell on July 4 at home, where he surrendered four runs on seven hits, including a pair of home runs, over six innings. He also hit a grand slam in that contest.
"I know those numbers are better on the road," Roenicke said. "But I feel good with Shaun pitching anywhere."
"I can't [explain it]. Shaun, he's a command pitcher. And I don't know why your command would be different at one park versus another."
Marcum struggled to offer an explanation, too.
"It's weird," he said. "People have different years."
Roenicke was quick to cite Marcum's strong start to 2011.
Across his first 14 starts, Marcum cruised to a 7-2 ledger and a 2.68 ERA. Over his final 19 games, however, the righty went 6-5 with a 4.25 ERA, including posting a 6.66 ERA in his final four outings of the season.
He allowed 18 runs in his last three appearances at home.
"At the beginning of the season, he was lights out," Roenicke said. "He was our best pitcher for whatever that period was. I still think he's pitching well. When Shaun goes out there, I'm not concerned about him.
"Every time we put him out there, I think he's going to pitch a good game."
After all, Marcum has pitched in intimidating environments in the past.