On January 28, 2016, the Colorado Rockies parted ways with outfielder Corey Dickerson and prospect Kevin Padlo, sending them to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for relief pitcher Jake McGee and a little known pitching prospect named German Marquez.

As it turned out, Marquez ended up being arguably the best player involved in the deal and this would end up being one of the very few times when former GM Jeff Bridich actually came out on top in a transaction.

Marquez made his MLB debut with the Rockies later that season after winning some awards in Double-A and showed promise right away by essentially pitching at a league average level for his first 20 innings out of the bullpen.

The next season, at age 22, Marquez was locked into the rotation as a part of a group that would power the club to their first postseason appearance in nearly a decade. He posted a 115 ERA+ over 162 innings and even without much recognition for the Inverse Coors Field Effect, he still managed to place fifth in Rookie of the Year voting.

He avoided a sophomore slump entirely, improving on just about every element of his game in 2018, leading the Rockies to their second straight season of October baseball, upping his ERA+ to 125 in 196 innings and struck out a whopping 230 batters, the new franchise record.

Like most Rockies, he had a bad 2019. He dropped close to league average with an ERA+ of 108 in 174 innings. His strikeouts numbers were still good (175) and oddly enough he had the best winning percentage of his career but time and study of those statistics have proven that to be entirely flukish and out of his hands. 

So he had a down season but not a terrible one going into the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign where he absolutely excelled. Marquez paced the National League in games started, batters faced, and innings pitched while recording a career high ERA+ of 138. 

In this moment, the Venezuelan righty seemed prime to take that next step toward becoming an All-Star, a Cy Young candidate, and solidifying himself as maybe the greatest pitcher in franchise history.

He made the first part happen with a tremendous start to the 2021 season and did indeed appear in the Midsummer Classic in front of his hometown fans. It all seemed to be coming together as he entered his physical prime at age 26.

But ever since then, he hasn’t been the same. After that break his numbers tanked to the degree that he ended the year with a 109 ERA+, just one point above his career low, and he followed that up with by far his worst campaign yet, posting a 94 ERA+ last year.

It’s make or break time for German Marquez.

After this year, the Rockies can either choose to pick up his $16 million contract for next season or spend $2.5 million to officially end the Marquez era without him ever reaching his full potential.

Now 28 years old and still possessing elite stuff in terms of the velocity and movement on his fastball, curveball, and slider, he finds himself in a position where he has more to prove than ever.

It’s a “what have you done for me lately” business and the answer for this pitcher who seemed on the cusp of greatness is… not much. Another season like the one a year ago and the club has to admit that whatever his issues, they have not been addressed to the extent that you can consider building your rotation around him.

On the other hand, if he can make the necessary physical and mental adjustments and return to form, the 2022 season will look more like an outlier compared to the rest of his career and Colorado will be more than happy to pay him, maybe even extend him.

A lot is riding on the next 30 starts in the career of German Marquez.

Even if he would rather pitch somewhere else, like many players do, he will have to prove he can still pitch in Denver if he wants to make that next big deal.

But beyond how much money he makes or how much it impacts his team, fans of baseball should be rooting for the best version of this fireballer. Because when he is at his best, he’s incredibly fun to watch. It would be sad for the game if he has already peaked.