After moving to 7-2 this week, St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Carlos Martinez is turning heads around Major League Baseball – and with good reason.
Martinez is second only to Michael Wacha in wins on the St. Louis staff, and it’s safe to say that the right-hander has now surpassed fellow rotation-mate Lance Lynn in terms of value. Sure, the latter is a more proven option, but there’s no disputing that Martinez possesses the higher upside of the two.
Signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent six years ago, Martinez has been listed amongst the best prospects in the game for the last several seasons, topping out as Baseball Prospectus’ No. 31 prospect prior to the 2012 campaign.
During his time in the minors, Martinez did not disappoint, posting a cumulative 2.60 earned run average spanning 338 innings of work while averaging just over nine punch-outs per nine innings worked.
That being said, just because a player succeeds down on the farm hardly guarantees big league success. Even with the Cardinals’ young right-hander, there’s still reason for caution given he has just 191 innings of big league experience under his belt to-date.
Martinez has served primarily as a reliever for St. Louis prior to 2015, and, by and large, he was relatively effective – although nowhere near what he’s done this year.
This season, he’s lowered his WHIP from 1.41 to 1.26 and has gone from basically an average pitcher to a nearly 2.0-win asset for the Cardinals, who have the best record in baseball. He’s been incredibly effective at doing what it takes to win – limiting base hits – with opponents batting just .225 against him.
His stuff can be downright filthy at times, but for him to be the next young pitcher to take that next step for the St. Louis Cardinals organization, he has to prove he’s more than a flash-in-a-pan. This dominance cannot be a first-half thing or even a one-year performance.
While his numbers will almost certainly even out, at least to a degree, having someone who is both young and controllable alongside Wacha gives St. Louis GM Jon Mozeliak a one-two punch that rivals the best in the game – that also has longevity.
We’ve heard about how good this kid is for the last three years and it looks like those prophecies are finally coming to fruition. Now, it’s up to Carlos Martinez to prove that he’s the real deal and stand up as a face of this starting rotation.