Friday, June 10, 2011
Marshall has look of All-Star
By Bruce Levine
Sean Marshall hasn't given up a run on the road in 20 appearances.
PHILADELPHIA -- The Cubs' Sean Marshall, who has been the National League's most consistent left-handed reliever the past two seasons, is one of baseball's best-kept relief secrets.
And if the Cubs have a deserving All-Star, it's the understated 28-year-old Marshall.
"I think so," Cubs manager Mike Quade said. "I don't know all the numbers in the National League, but I can't think of anybody I'd rather have in that role. I know his numbers are fantastic. I don't know what they are, but I know I wouldn't take anyone else ahead of him in either league."
Marshall, who pitched two scoreless innings in the Cubs' 4-3 victory over the Phillies on Thursday, has not allowed a run on the road since Sept. 11, 2010, a span of 20 road appearances and 18 2/3 innings. He is 3-0 with an 0.95 ERA with 12 holds and one save this season.
Maybe even more impressive: Marshall has held opponents to a .174 batting average with runners in scoring position (4 for 23).
Marshall started to ascend to his elite bullpen status in 2009 and may have come of age when Quade let him pitch to the Cardinals' Albert Pujols last September in several crucial late-inning games.
"He just condenses his starting mentality," Quade said. "Basically he throws his three pitches (changeup, cut fastball and curveball). He just never gets flustered. I love that about him."
Five years ago Marshall stayed with then-teammate Greg Maddux at his home before Maddux's family came to live in Chicago. Marshall learned a lot about pitching philosophy from Maddux, now a special assistant to general manager Jim Hendry.
"He taught me to think about having angles and movement on all my pitches," Marshall said. "He said keeping your arm strong was important, but he also said throwing as hard as you can was overrated. Part of the thing he taught was to spot my pitches, give the image of balls that look like strikes. All of that was a big part of what I picked up from Greg."