Marco Rene Estrada
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6', Weight 180 lb.
- School Glendale Community College (CA), Long Beach State University
- High School Sylmar High School
- Debut August 20, 2008
Estrada made his major league debut by pitching two scoreless innings for the Nationals against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 20, 2008. He had no decisions and a 7.82 ERA in 11 games that season, then went 0-1, 6.14 for Washington in 2009, then was claimed off waivers by the Milwaukee Brewers as spring training was starting in 2010.
Estrada had another year with no record for Milwaukee in 2010, putting up a 9.53 ERA in 7 games, then finally managed to stick at the major league level in 2011. That year, he went 4-8, 4.08 in 43 games as a swingman for the Brewers, pitching 92 2/3 innings during which he struck out 88 and walked only 29. That very good K/W ratio got even better in 2012, when he struck out 143 and only walked 29 batters in 138 1/3 innings for Milwaukee. He made 23 starts in 29 appearances, and put up an ERA of 3.64 (an ERA+ of 112), but evidently only received mediocre run support as his record was only 5-7.
Estrada pitched for the Mexican national team in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. All of his 21 appearances with the Brewers were as a starter in 2013, and he went 7-4, 3.87, giving up only 108 hits in 128 innings, with another excellent K/W ratio of 118/29. He did not do as well in 2014, as he lost his starting job and ended up making 39 appearances, of which 18 were starts. He pitched 150 2/3 innings, the most of his career and ended the year with a record of 7-6, 4.36. He displayed a marked penchant for the gopher ball, as he surrendered a National League-leading 29 homers in spite of not being anywhere near the league leaders in innings pitched. On November 1st, the Brewers traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for 1B Adam Lind.
With Toronto in 2015, Marco was originally used as a long reliever and all of his appearances in April were out of the bullpen. An excellent 0.84 ERA during the month convinced the Jays to use him as a starter and he joined the rotation in early May. Initial results of the move were mixed, as he was 0-3, 5.02 in 5 starts in the month, but he turned things around in June, when he recorded wins in his first four starts. He was still giving up a lot of runs, but with the Blue Jays leading the major leagues in many hitting categories, it was good enough to end up on the right side of the ledger. On June 19th, facing the Baltimore Orioles, he did things all by himself as he did not give up a hit through the first seven innings before Jimmy Paredes led off the 8th with a single. He left the game at that point, and his bullpen allowed 4 runs to score over the last two frames, but the Jays had built enough of a lead for him to end up a 5-4 winner. He topped that great performance in his next start, against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 24th, when he began the game with 7 perfect innings. 3B Josh Donaldson helped him out in the 8th, when he caught a foul pop-up by David DeJesus by leaping head-first into the stands, but when Logan Forsythe hit a slow roller to third, Donaldson was unable to get the out as Forsythe barely beat his throw to first base. He pitched until two were out in the 9th and left as the game was still scoreless. The Jays eventually won on a 12th-inning homer by Chris Colabello. He finished the season with a record of 13-8, 3.13 in 34 games, including 28 starts. He started 3 games in the postseason, going 2-1 with a win in both the ALDS against the Texas Rangers, when the Blue Jays had their backs against the wall, and in the ALCS against the Kansas City Royals. He was a potential free agent after the season, but accepted a qualifying offer from the Blue Jays and ended up signing a two-year contract on November 13th for $26 million.
Estrada had a solid first half in 2016 and on July 5th was named to the All-Star team for the first time, largely on the strength of a 2.93 ERA in 16 starts, one of the best in the American League even though his record was only 5-3. However, two days later, he was placed on the disabled list with a sore back, forcing him out of the Midsummer Classic. On September 19th, he carried a no-hitter against the Seattle Mariners into the 7th inning before it was broken up by Robinson Cano. In the first game of a key series for both teams, he ended up winning a 3-2 decision. The win came after Estrada had lost his three previous starts and seen his ERA go up from 3.37 to 3.78 in the process. He had previously carried a no-hit bid into the 8th inning against the Boston Red Sox on June 5th. Marco had a tremendous game when he started Game 1 of the 2016 ALDS against the Rangers on October 6th. He completely baffled the Rangers over the first 8 innings, before allowing a meaningless run in the 9th inning and was credited with a 10-1 win.
After his two excellent seasons, Estrada took a big step backwards in 2017. Things started well enough as he was tabbed t start on Opening Day, April 3rd, against the Baltimore Orioles and did well, giving up just 2 runs in 6 innings. He had a no-decision that day and was winless in April, in spite of a solid 2.70 ERA. He followed that with an solid month of May, when he went 4-1, 3.49, in 6 starts, but the bottom fell out after that. Starting on June 1st, he made 12 consecutive winless starts, being charged with 5 losses, while his ERA jumped by almost two full runs, from 3.15 to 5.12. He finally ended that skid on August 10th, when he defeated the New York Yankees, 4-0, tossing 7 innings. That coincided with the Blue Jays falling well out of contention and into last place in the AL East.
- AL All-Star (2016)
- Gregor Chisholm: "Pressure of big game no problem for Estrada", mlb.com, October 6, 2016.