St.Louis Cardinals Fifth Rotation Spot Duel
By Doug Vollet
There’s a possible duel looming in St.Louis for the fifth rotation spot. Carlos Martinez seems to have the obvious claim, but if he has a weak spring training and Marco Gonzales has a strong one, he could seize the role.
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Since combined they have less than 160 innings in the majors, their stats at that level don’t really tell the whole story.
Both pitchers are 22, but have had different paths to the big leagues. Carlos, who was acquired at the young age of 18, had four seasons in the minors, being called up at the end of 2014. Marco on the other hand, was only in the minors for two years before making it to the majors last year.
Both were starters in the minors, though they only had one complete game between them. This is standard practice in the minors though, so it’s not a big deal, but it does limit our data a little bit, so before we get to the stats, let’s take a look at their pitching profiles on Brooks Baseball, which features the effectiveness and usage rate of their various pitches.
Here’s Carlos’ profile.
As you can see, Carlos relies mainly on his fastball and slider though he did mix in an effective sinker more often near the end of last season. Marco’s two main pitches were his fastball and change-up Carlos’ combo is better, as both his heater and slider appear to be plus pitches, while Marco has just an average fastball but a plus change-up.
As far as secondary pitches go, Marco has a slider he mixd in more towards the end of the season that can generate a ton of ground balls but is rarely swung at and missed. He also uses a curve on occasion which has 12 to 6 movement.
Carlos has a hard change-up he uses which generates quite a few swings and misses.
Overall I think Carlos’ has the better arsenal.
As for stats, as I said, they don’t have many innings at the major league level. Overall, in his career in the minors, Marco’s FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) was 3.02 in 145.1 innings, while Carlos had a 3.33 FIP in the minors in 273 innings. Carlos had the better ground ball percentage at 51.7, as opposed to Marco’s 42.6 rate. Carlos’ also kept the ball in the park better, with a HR/9 ratio of 0.43, while Marco had a 0.74 rate.
As far as makeup goes, I think Carlos has the edge going into this season, due to the tragic death of his friend Oscar Taveras. Carlos has switched his number to 18, Oscar’s former number. He’s dedicating this year to Oscar, and I think that will drive him to succeed even more than usual. Marco will have some drive, since he’s obviously trying to prove himself worthy of being in the majors for a full season, but that doesn’t match Carlos dedicating this season to a lost friend.
Overall, I think Carlos’ has the edge in the battle for the last spot in the rotation, both in stuff and makeup, but you never know.
As always, thanks for reading.