Is Shaun Marcum on a Strict Pitch Count?

Shaun Marcum pitched another great game on Thursday night, but the offense and bullpen let the team down again, extending the recent losing skid to six games.

Some have wondered why Marcum was taken out of the game after 7 innings and 98 pitches. He was cruising along pretty well for much of the game, but the 7th inning was his most difficult inning — the only one in which he threw 20 pitches. Aside from that, pushing well past 100 pitches just isn’t something Marcum does.

Thursday night was his 7th start of the season, and he’s gone over 100 pitches just once this year (102 in 6 IP at Philly). The 98 he threw against the Braves was actually his second-highest total of the season. It’s not something that’s unique to the Brewers this year, either.

Coming back from Tommy John surgery last season, Marcum went over 100 pitches in just 18 of his 31 starts, with the majority of those coming early in the year. Over his last 15 starts of 2010, he went over 100 six times.

Considering injury history and mechanics, it isn’t a terrible idea to keep a tight clamp on his pitch count, especially early in the year. The decision to pull Marcum will be questioned because of what happened in the 8th inning with Kameron Loe, but there’s no guarantee Marcum would have held the Braves scoreless in that inning, either. If you want to get caught up in results, Loe made a mistake to Martin Prado on a 3-1 count, but was otherwise fine.

It is discouraging that Brewers pitching only made two big mistakes all night — both single-run mistakes, not multi-run — and they still weren’t able to snap the losing streak. This team isn’t any different than the one that took 3 of 4 from Atlanta in Milwaukee, though. They’re just playing poorly right now. It’s easy to panic, but we’re not even a full week into May. If the Brewers can find a way to have a strong series in St. Louis, most of this will be forgotten.

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