I liked the move when it was made, I really liked the move heading into the season (picking him as my preseason Brewers pitcher of the year), and after a month's worth of starts, I think I'm in love. It is a small sample size and there's been the occasional bump along the road, but I don't know how anyone can look back on Marcum's first six starts and not be impressed with the results.
He's been efficient, with only one of his starts going for less than 6 innings yet only throwing more than 100 pitches once. While Yovani Gallardo is struggling to find his strikeout pitch, Marcum is piling up the K's. And, most impressive to me, he's inducing a ton of swinging strikes despite not having incredible stuff. Take, for example, Friday night's start in Houston.
Brooks Baseball has Marcum notching 12 swinging strikes last night, and when you look at the strikezone plot, all but two of those were pitches outside of the zone:
For the year, Marcum has induced a 34.2% O-Swing%, which you may remember is the percentage of pitches a batter chases out of the zone. Coming into Saturday, that ranks 9th in the Major Leagues. Marcum's 69.5% Contact% is the second-lowest in the league, behind only Chris Narveson. His swinging strike percentage of 13.0% is also second only to Narveson.
For what it's worth, Brett Lawrie is tearing it up in AAA for Toronto and is probably looking at a call-up sometime in the next couple months. So far, this is looking like a trade that is going to benefit both sides. Lawrie's bat would look nice at the top of the Brewers' system, but there would be nowhere for him to play in Milwaukee. Right now, it's hard to argue with the results from the Brewers' perspective.