Before I get to far into this, I want to say that Sean Marshall has the best numbers of a guy in the bullpen not named Chapman. He's given up his share of hits, but he counters that with the lowest BB/9, a low HR/9, and a high K/9 rate. When Broxton was acquired, there was hope that he, Marshall, and Chapman were the new BMC (Big Men in Cincinnati) that would cause opponents to surrender after six.
At the same time, there was a fear that Broxton would become the eighth inning guy and Marshall would end up in a more traditional Lefty One Out GuY. And after last night's loss to the Cubs, there was much lamenting that this was, indeed, the case. But if this is true, it happened well before the trade deadline, as KMiB pointed out that 14 of his last 19 outings have been the less than an inning type.
So I decided to check those out. Was he ineffective? Was he pulled even when the next batter was a lefty? Did he face a mix of lefty and righty that would help belie this idea? Or was Dusty being a toothpick in the mud and resigning his second best bullpen arm to a situational role?
Below is a break down of Marshall's usage in the last eighteen games going back to June 26th in what may be a tl;dr format. His numbers over this time: 14.2 IP, 15 K's, and a 1.82 ERA.
Keep in mind, I'm not defending his usage here at all, but instead trying to look over his appearances to ease my fears. And if you'd rather, you can skip to the end for a quick summary and my interpretation thereof. Otherwise, here's the breakdown:June 26th, 2012: Bronson's no-hit bid explodes, and Marshall is brought in to hold the tie to by facing left-hander Nyjer Morgan. Morgan is lifted for a right-handed pinch hitter, but Dusty #letshimpitch and he coaxes a popout. The Reds take the lead in the bottom of the eighth, and Chappy closes the ninth.
July 1st, 2012: With the Reds down 3-2 in San Francisco, Sean Marshall is given the ball to battle the very left-handed bottom of the Giants batting order. Switch-hitting Angel Pagan pops out before Belt and Crawford (both lefties) go single double. A right handed pinch hitter for the pitcher and the left-handed Gregor Blanco are retired to end the threat.
July 5th, 2012: Marshall is brought in to start the eighth with the Reds up 1-0. Pinch-hitter and right-handed Logan Forsythe's hits a solo home run to tie the game at one. Marshall strikes out the next hitter, also a right handed pinch hitter, gets a lefty out and gives up a single to switch-hitting Chase Headley. He is pulled for Logan Ondrusek against the righty Carlos Quentin with another switch hitter and a lefty due up.
July 7th, 2012: Again against the Padres, Sean Marshall is called upon to hold a lead in the eighth. Right-handed Carlos Quentin singles, switch-hitting Grandal K's, left-handed Alonso singles, and right-handed Maybin K's. He then walks a right-handed pinch hitter before being pulled for Logan Ondrusek who retires righty Chris Denorfia.
July 8th, 2012: With a two run lead in the seventh in Weez Diego, Sam Lecure walks two, and Marshall is brought in with one out to retire switchy Grandal and lefty Alonso. He stays for a right-switch-right 1-2-3 eighth as well.
July 13th, 2012: Arrendondo starts the 7th, allowing two singles while getting to ground ball outs. Marshall is brought in to face the left handed Skip Schumaker who is called back for a right-handed Shane Robinson, who singles. A walk to a right handed pinch hitter is allowed before Marshall retires the switch hitting Furcal.
July 14th, 2012: Mike Leake starts the seventh with a 2 run lead and leaves retiring no one, up 2-1, and with runners at 2nd and 3rd. Marshall comes in and greets switch-hitting Lance Berkman with a strike out. The still switch-hitting Furcal then singles in the tying run on a bunt. Lefty John Jay is retired on a fielder's choice, and Logan is brought in to face a righty to end the inning.
July 17th, 2012: Marshall is given the ninth with a 4 run lead. After he strikes out the lefty bat Parra, he allows a single to right-handed Ryan Roberts. He retires lefty Stephen Drew, gives up a single to righty Bloomquist, and is pulled for Chapman in what has become a save situation.
July 19th, 2012: Ondrusek gets two quick outs in the eighth and gives the ball to Marshall to face the left handed Miguel Montero, who hits that ball for a single. Left-handed pinch-hitter Lyle "the Crocodile" Overbay also singles before Marshall gets right-handed Bloomquist out.
July 21st, 2012: Marshall gets the last out of the 7th and the first of the 8th, both lefties.
July 23rd, 2012: It's the Astros! In the bottom of the 8th, Marshall is brought in with one out, the bases loaded, and the Reds up 8-2 to face switch-hitting Meowrin Gonzalez, who singles. Marshall ends the threat and pitched the ninth facing four righties and a lefty.
July 25th, 2012: The Reds give a 2-0 lead to Ondrusek in the eighth to face right handers. He and bad fielding give up the lead, and Marshall is called on for the last out against a left hander.
July 28th, 2012. The Reds again give Ondrusek a shot with a 2 run lead in the eighth, and he turns it over to Marshall with two outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. Marshall retires the left-handed Carlos Gonzalez to earn a hold.
July 31st, 2012: With the Padres in town, Marshall goes two strong, retiring switch-left-left-right-switch-right in order.
August 1st, 2012: Padres again, Marshall gets a 1-2-3 seventh against right-switch-left.
August 4th, 2012. The Pirrrates come to town, and Marshall goes 1-2-3 in the seventh against a right-handed pinch hitter, a lefty, and a switchy.
August 7th, 2012: The Brewers lead 3-1 in the eighth, and Marshal is brought in again for lefties Aoki (single) and Morgan, who is called back for the right handed Gomez (lineout). He then gets two of the next three right-handed hitters out to end the inning.
August 9th, 2012: The Cubs have lefty LaHair pinch hit and face Marshall, who then gets lefty David DeJesus out to end the seventh. He starts the eighth retiring a righty, walks a lefty, and then he's pulled. Soriano Ondruseks a pitch, and the Reds lose.
So what does it all mean? Most of those outings through July 28th seem very LOOGY-ish to me. He's brought in to face lefties or handle an inning in which a lefty is due, but will get pulled often with two outs and a righty at the plate.
Then, perhaps tired of the failures of Ondrusek (which could also justify the Broxton trade), Dusty gives Marshall a run of four appearances facing bats of both handedness with very good results. Then last night happens.
And as I wrap this up, Marshall's in to pitch the seventh. He is scheduled to face lefty-righty-lefty and deals them walk, single, ground-out. With a run of righties due up, he is lifted for Sam LeCure, and I feel forced to concede. Meet Sean Marshall, LOOGY.