Suddenly a pair of former Nationals have become available over the past 36 hours, though we shouldn’t expect either to be making a return engagement in Washington – even with the injury concerns that the organization has been coping with on the season to date.
Early Monday the Minnesota Twins designated Jason Marquis for assignment. The veteran right-hander had struggled this season, posting a 2-4 record with an 8.47 ERA over 7 starts (34.0 innings). His peripheral statistics have not been impressive either, with just 3.2 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and a troubling 13.8 H/9. In his last start, Sunday at Milwaukee, he was torched for 8 runs on 8 hits in just 1.2 innings of work. After winning two of his first three starts on the season he’s now gone on to take the loss in four straight. Minnesota is quickly falling out of contention in the AL Central and the organization will likely be better served by seeing what some of their younger pitchers are capable of doing at the Major League level rather than continuing to throw Marquis out there simply to eat innings. The decision effectively ends Marquis’ first stint in the American League after signing a one year, $3 Million deal with the Twins this past winter.
Meanwhile, late Tuesday the Detroit Tigers made a similar decision, designating Collin Balester for assignment. Balester had been acquired from the Nationals in early December, a move that brought Ryan Perry to town. He’s struggled to adapt in Detroit and hasn’t performed on the field well enough to keep his spot in the bullpen. Considering Detroit’s struggles in the standings, they just simply couldn’t wait any longer for Balester to figure things out. Through 18.0 innings over 11 appearances he’s 2-0 with a 6.50 ERA. Like Marquis, he’s been struggling with command, allowing 5.5 BB/9 against 6/0 K/9. Balester is out of options, so the Tigers cannot send him down to the minor leagues unless he passes through waivers first.
Marquis could potentially draw some interest on the free agent market considering his long track record of success in the National League. He’s originally from New York and the Mets could use some pitching depth, leaving many to a natural conclusion that the pair could be a fit for one another. It seems, however, that the Mets have already decided that they do not have much interest in pursuing him at this time.
As for Balester, there’s a chance he could be picked up by someone provided there’s an organization who believes they can keep him in their bullpen without risking the need to expose him to waivers. If not, he’ll presumably go to Toledo until he either pitches his way back into the Tigers bullpen or out of the organization altogether.
Washington has had their own injury concerns within the pitching staff, mainly in the bullpen, but neither Marquis or Balester appear to represent a significant upgrade over any of the team’s current options. Marquis certainly wouldn’t be a fit in the bullpen as the bulk of his career has been working out of the rotation. Balester wouldn’t be a terrible option to consider if the circumstances were different and the need more apparent. Realistically he doesn’t seem to be a fit for the time being.