Exit Interview: Carlos Martinez

The last couple of years, I spent the time immediately after the season examining each player that had made an appearance in St. Louis during the season.  This series was well received and so I’m bringing this idea back for the 2014 offseason.  More summaries than anything, I imagine the player coming into Mike Matheny‘s office and having a short conference before heading home for the winter.  Stats are just the ones accumulated for the Cardinals during the regular season.

This year’s Exit Interview series is brought to you by Cast.  Get instant feedback on whatever question you want to ask, whether it’s what’s going to happen in tonight’s game or which Muppet is the best.  Cast lets you ask anything that’s on your mind and quickly see what other folks are thinking as well.

Player: Carlos Martinez

Season stats: 2-4, 1 SV, 4.03 ERA, 57 games, 89.1 IP, 90 H, 36 BB, 84 K, 1.410 WHIP, 91 ERA+

Hero/Goat: Hero 4, Goat 5

Overall grade: B

Positives: Could be devastatingly nasty at times, striking out two or more in a relief appearance 16 times….after a time in the starting rotation, posted a 2.42 ERA and .642 OPS against in 20 games down the stretch….became the de facto safety net behind Trevor Rosenthal in the playoffs.

Negatives: With a walk every three innings, control wasn’t what you would like to see, especially out of a late-inning option….struggled as a starter, putting up a 5.08 ERA and .809 OPS against, though some of that was due to transitioning mid-season….had issues with lefties, who managed a .297/.387/.462 line against him.

Overview: There’s no doubt there’s a lot of excitement and electricity when Carlos Martinez takes the mound.  The problem is, some of that excitement is due to the fact that you really don’t know which Carlos Martinez is going out there, the strikeout machine or the guy that may be all over the place with his pitches.  There’s still a lot of raw talent in Martinez, but it’s talent nonetheless.

I mean, look at the stretch from September 4 to September 16.  Martinez appeared in seven games, throwing 6.2 innings.  In that time he allowed five hits but no walks and no runs and struck out seven.  Fairly dominating stuff.  Then you have games like August 20, where he allowed three runs on five hits in 0.2 innings.  That lack of consistency may come, but until it does it makes it hard to give him the biggest stage.

He also struggled in the high leverage situations (.289/.379/.404) which means that the idea of him taking over for Rosenthal should give some people pause.  In fact, his ERA in the ninth inning (just 5.2 innings, but still) was 6.35, which would give people heartburn very quickly.

There’s a lot to like here, don’t get me wrong.  He’s got good stuff and he can strike out anyone in the league.  Just trying to figure out how to make him better (and, going along with that, which role works best for him) is probably the biggest task of the offseason.

Outlook: We’ve seen the pictures and the video.  We’ve read the Tweets, heard the interviews.  This is a man that is hurting having lost his best friend.  How the loss of Oscar Taveras is going to affect him on the baseball field next season is unknown.  It could focus him, it could cause him to be even more erratic.  We don’t know (and, obviously, this is secondary to the pain that he’s going through, but we’re looking at the baseball portion now).

We also don’t know what the Cardinals want to do with him.  Another year in the bullpen and I believe he starts going the Rosenthal route, never really becoming a starting pitcher.  Yet the Cards already have five starters that would outrank him.  It’s a dilemma that John Mozeliak could fix by trading someone to make room for him, but there’s no real talk of that happening.

Of all the folks that we’ve looked at, Martinez is probably the one with the biggest questions going into 2015.

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