Exit Interview: Carlos Martinez

For the fourth straight year, we’re taking some time in that time between the end of the season and the winter meetings to discuss each player that made an appearance on the St. Louis roster this season.  Whether they played almost every day or never actually got into a game, they get covered in this series.  All stats are exclusively their time in St. Louis.  Just think of this as them stopping by Mike Matheny‘s office for a quick evaluation before heading home for the winter.

Player: Carlos Martinez

Season stats: 14-7, 3.01 ERA, 31 games, 179.2 IP, 168 H, 13 HR, 63 BB, 184 K, 1.286 WHIP, 3.21 FIP, 4.0 bWAR

Hero/Goat: Hero 7, Goat 3

Overall grade: A

Positives: Struck out over a batter an inning and had a K/BB ratio close to 3….was selected for the All-Star Game….was better away from Busch, with a .218 BAA and a 2.54 ERA outside of St. Louis….had an electric first half, with 10 wins, a 2.52 ERA, and a BAA of .226….started off extremely strong, going 3-0 with a 1.73 ERA in April….stayed focused when it was close, putting up a 1.56 ERA when he had two or fewer runs scored for him….was deadly with two outs, allowing just a .671 OPS against, though he did allow four of his home runs in those situations….batters hit just .155 when there were two outs and runners in scoring position.

Negatives: Came up lame at the very end of the season, missing the playoffs with a shoulder strain….struggled against the Cubs and Pirates, posting a combined 5.06 ERA against the two closest competitors for the NL Central crown….batters hit .310 while leading off an inning against him….they also hit .398 with three homers on his first pitch of an at-bat….with the bases loaded, batters hit .294….batters hit .293/.360/.410 their first plate appearance against him in a game, numbers that dropped off the more they saw him.

Overview: Remember when some folks wanted to see Martinez be that eighth inning dominant reliever type?  When there was an actual battle he needed to win to get a rotation spot, a battle that might have gone a different way had Jaime Garcia not started the season on the disabled list?  It’s kinda hard to believe after watching the season Tsunami had.  While John Lackey might have been the most consistent pitcher, nobody was more electric than Martinez.  He was the guy you would pick for a seven inning, 10 K type of game.  There were a lot of days where he just made the hitters look foolish.  Not every day–he had back-to-back outings early in the season where he allowed seven runs in each one–but many of them.  The fact that the Cards lost him right before the playoffs probably was the final straw in their postseason hopes.  If he’s healthy, he goes in Game 2, which allows Garcia to be maybe healthy for Game 3 and maybe, just maybe, the Cards are the ones going to the NLCS yet again.  We’ll never know, though.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story of Martinez’s season, though.  Even though he was carrying the loss of his good friend Oscar Taveras in his heart, taking OT with him to the mound each time with the number he wore, the patch on his sleeve, and the OT he would scratch in the back of the pitcher’s mound, he showed why he could be the most personable Cardinal pitcher in a long time, and that is saying something when you have Adam Wainwright in your rotation.  Carlos stacked cups with aplomb and was always waiting at the end of the home run line with a cup of water for the slugger, water that was then thrown in their face if their name was Matt Carpenter.  He was the pitcher that baseball fans would have loved and embraced–if he hadn’t been a Cardinal.

Outlook: Martinez is rehabbing in Jupiter this offseason and hopefully will be ready to go by spring training, if not before.  A year older, a year more experienced, and I don’t think there’s any reason to think that he can’t be a de facto number two guy behind Wainwright well before the end of the season.  It’s going to be a lot of fun watching him go after folks again next season and for many years to come!

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