For the second year in a row, Germán Márquez will be the Rockies starter on opening day when they take on the Dodgers on Thursday at Coors Field.
Márquez started 13 games in 2020, finishing with a 3.75 ERA, a career best for him. Antonio Senzatela, Jon Gray and Austin Gomber will be the second, third and fourth starters for the Rockies to start the season.
“Every season is really exciting to start,” Márquez said. “Start strong and finish strong and give my best to the team to win.”
Colorado selected the contract of Chi Chi González on Saturday, and the team intends to use him as a fifth starter in place of Kyle Freeland, who is out for at least a month with a shoulder sprain. Gonzalez will also be used as a long reliever. The team has not decided how many pitchers it will carry to start the season, manager Bud Black said.
Márquez has struggled in spring training with his fastball command, a pitch he throws about 38% of the time. The velocity and movement has been there, Black said, but location continues to be a problem.
Márquez threw 22 fastballs Saturday against the White Sox in his last spring training start, missing the zone eight times. He’ll have a side session Monday, where command will be the main focus.
“That’s something we talked a lot about this spring,” Black said. “There are times when the season starts and guys heighten their focus and heighten their concentration and things come together.”
At its best though, Márquez’s fastball can be deceptive for hitters. Catcher Dom Núñez said that it comes in hotter than batters realize.
“It’s just mind blowing that you have a guy that can throw upper 90s, mid 90s with just a flick of the wrist,” he said. “It’s very special.”
Márquez said he also focused on his change-up and getting his breaking ball in the proper location during spring training. His curveball and sliders are his most used pitches outside of the fastball, and he threw his change-up just 5.3% of the time last season.
“He feels good about his arm and his stuff,” Black said. “He hit every marker, every bullpen session, pitch count got close to 90 so there is stamina there for when he takes the mound when we start the season. Overall, he’s in a good spot.”
Márquez will be tested right away. The Dodgers, the reigning World Series champions, carry one of the toughest lineups in the league.
“I feel happy about my stuff and I feel ready to go,” Marquez said. “My arm feels good.”