As is tradition around these parts after the season is over, we’re taking a look at every player that got into a game for the St. Louis Cardinals this season. That’ll range from someone that didn’t record an out to someone that played almost every inning. Treat it like they are stopping by the manager’s office (umm, also imagine this was before the managerial change) on their way home for the winter for a performance review. Stats listed are ones generated during their time with the Cards and the grade is based not only on their performance but on the expectations for them going into the season. As he has the past few years, the legend that is cardinalsgifs has provided our excellent header image!
Player: Carlos Martinez
Season stats: 4-9, 6.23 ERA, 16 G, 82.1 IP, 77 H, 8 HR, 36 BB, 57 K, 4.76 FIP, 1.372 WHIP, 6.2 K/9, -1.3 bWAR, 0.6 fWAR
Statcast: .366 xwOBA, 8.5 barrel %, 89.8 exit velocity, 42.5 hard hit %, 15.7 K %, 9.9 BB %
Best Statcast category: Fastball Velocity (29th percentile)
Worst Statcast category: Curve Spin (3rd percentile)
Hero/Goat: Hero 4, Goat 6
Positives: Had a 3.72 ERA and a 3.86 FIP after his May 2 start, which was eight shutout innings against the Pirates….righties hit .226 against him though they hit as many homers (four) as lefties did but in fewer at bats….went 2-0 with a 3.60 ERA in May….gave up a .630 OPS when receiving three to five runs of support….fifth place hitters had an OPS of .451….batters hit .232 when they took the first pitch….limited hitters to a .479 OPS when he was ahead in the count….batters slashed .192/.314/.342 to start an inning….did best in low-leverage situations, keeping hitters to a .571 OPS in those spots….batters hit .195 after his 25th pitch….had a 3.51 ERA on four days’ rest….kept the Cubs to a .574 OPS….had a 3.90 ERA in six day games.
Negatives: A whole lot of blue in those Statcast sliders….finished in the bottom five percent of the league in xwOBA, strikeout percentage, and xERA….had six different games where he allowed five or more runs….gave up 10 runs in less than an inning to the Dodgers to start June….had an ERA almost 14.00 in his first five June starts in part (but not completely) due to that game….left the July 4 start due to injury and never returned….had a 7.16 ERA in nine road starts….in his nine losses had a 9.74 ERA….when he got two or less runs of support, posted a 7.51 ERA….third place hitters slashed .395/.435/.837 with five of the eight homers he allowed….gave up three homers and a 1.055 OPS on the first pitch….if the batter was ahead, allowed a 1.035 OPS….gave up a double, a homer, and four walks to the first batter in his 16 games….allowed a .941 OPS with runners in scoring position….batters had a .298 average in high leverage situations….had an 11.49 ERA in the first inning, heavily skewed by the Dodgers game….batters had an .876 OPS in his first 25 pitches….had a 9.00 ERA on five days’ rest.
Overview: There were two players that had spent their entire career in Cardinal red that had their options declined this offseason. There’s been a lot of focus on Matt Carpenter (helped, of course, by that wonderful video he put out) but there’s been less discussion about the end of the Carlos Martinez era. Martinez, like Carpenter, was a polarizing figure, though Martinez pretty much spent his career like that. Who can forget fans complaining about his hair color or the cup stacking or any other Carlos-related issue? Yet Martinez has a 3.74 career ERA as a Cardinal and that’s after two rough years. You could easily write off 2020 due to COVID, especially since he was one of those that had the worst cases, but it’s harder to put 2021 in that bucket. From 2015-2019, though, he had a 3.22 ERA and struck out almost exactly a batter an inning. When Martinez was on his game, he was a top of the rotation pitcher. The problem was, whether due to injury or focus or any other issue, he wasn’t on the top of his game as often as we would have liked.
Outlook: There’s still enough potential to tempt some team into thinking they can take a flyer on him, perhaps tweak him a bit, and have him back to his glory days. They very well may be right in that regard. I imagine Martinez will sign some sort of one year deal with an option for the second after most of the top pitchers have signed (and likely after the CBA has been settled). We’ll see if a fresh start does him good.