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Washington Nationals: Skipper Jim Riggleman On Jason Marquis, Before And After.

Prior to Sunday afternoon's brief outing against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers, in which Washington Nationals' starter Jason Marquis allowed 4 hits, 1 walk and 7 ER's without recording an out, DC Skipper Jim Riggleman said he was looking for, "...low strikes (and) ground balls," from the 31-year-old right-hander he hoped would, "...go out there the way he did against Philadelphia early on," in Marquis' previous start, during which he threw three scoreless, "...and got nothing but ground balls," before Philadelphia tapped him for 6 hits and 7 ER in the fourth and fifth, and knocked Marquis out with Nats trailing the Phillies 7-4. 

28 pitches, 4 hits, 7 ER, 1 walk and 2 hit batters later, Marquis was lifted from Sunday's outing, (having failed to record a single out), in favor of the Nats' long reliever Miguel Batista, who surrendered a single, an RBI sac fly, a one-out walk and a Grand Slam to put 10 runs on the board before the Nationals had come up to bat for the first time. Asked after the game what it was he thought was wrong and if there was any possibility Marquis was injured, Mr. Riggleman responded: 

"He's definitely healthy. That's the first thing I asked after he came out of the game, with [Pitching Coach] Steve McCatty, I said, 'Is he feeling okay and all that?', and he said yeah he's feeling good and as a matter of fact he wanted to go down underneath in the cage and throw some more. He just is really down in the dumps, of course, about how he performed out there today, and he's trying to find it. He went down in and threw more and more down below. That's not something you would do if you're physically not up to it..."

"Any chance he'd be dropped from the rotation?" Mr. Riggleman was asked during that Nats' Manager's post game press conference. "No," Mr. Riggleman said, he didn't want to do that, but, "...I wouldn't mind trying to find some way to change his routine, get him out of this rut, whether it was to throw him sooner or back him off a couple days or do something different with him just so he's got a different feel to what he's doing, because he can't be feeling good, I know that." 

Marquis struggled all Spring, giving up 32 hits, 21 ER and 10 walks in 5 starts and 20.2 IP, all of which was easily dismissed with talk of the veteran right-hander working his way into shape and knowing what he had to do during Spring Training to prepare himself for the regular season, but three starts into the twenty-ten campaign, the 31-year-old right-hander is (0-3) with a 20.52 ERA, 2.88 WHIP, 18 hits and 20 ER allowed in just 8.1 IP. At what point will the way Marquis is throwing necessitate a change? 

Mr. Riggleman responds that it's still so early in the season that he doesn't, "...want to send to send any message to anybody that we're not committed to you," but if Marquis continues to throw the way he has, showing an inability to throw strikes or get the groundballs he's known for inducing, how long can the Nationals continue to throw Marquis out there? Mr. Riggleman's response:

"We gotta make some change with there with [Marquis], he's gotta make some change, and he's totally dissatisfied with what's happening, he's upset about it, and I tip my hat to him, you know, instead of just walking away from it, he says, 'Let me go throw some more in the cage, I gotta figure this out.' So, that's the only way it's going to get figured out, is work, but as far as anything that we would do differently with him as far as pitching on short rest or longer rest or skipping him a turn, I haven't really been able to think it through yet."

There's no injury, no reason to react drastically and pull him from the rotation, but also no sign that he's capable of putting together a quality start nonetheless lead the team as the veteran right-hander said he hoped to when he was signed to a two-year/$15.0 million dollar deal this winter, so one has to ask, What's wrong with Jason Marquis? And is it something that can be fixed before the Nationals need to make a move?