St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Martinez’s Start (3/23)

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Sep 9, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez (18) pitches against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 9, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Carlos Martinez (18) pitches against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Carlos Martinez turns in five strong innings in his best start of the spring, looks close to ready for St. Louis Cardinals Opening Day

Making his third appearance in live action since being shut down on September 26, Carlos Martinez is on a shorter leash than other St. Louis Cardinals starters at this stage of the spring.

Pre-Game

His numbers thus far:

YearGSWLW-L%ERAGGSIPHRERHRBBSOHBPBFWHIPSO/W
2016201.0005.79224.27331270231.9293.50

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table

Lots of hits, lots of strike outs. Martinez has spent a lot of time in the zone (36 strikes in 47 total pitches) as he works to regain comfort on the hill. That probably accounts for the high hit total.

Today’s start against the Marlins is an important one for Martinez, as he looks to get ready to compete in April.

With a slew of off days in the first few weeks of the season, the Cardinals could hypothetically push Martinez back to mid-April in terms of his first start against either the Reds or Brewers, if need be.

How he looks this afternoon will give some insight into what that April situation looks like.

First Inning

After jumping ahead of Ichiro Suzuki 0-2, Martinez threw a nice slider down and in that Ichiro grounded off the first base bag, over Matt Holliday‘s head, and into left field.

Martinez responded to fan JT Realmuto with a tight slider and then painted 99 mph fastballs on the outside corner to fan Derek Dietrich and Giancarlo Stanton to strike out the side.

Pitches/Strikes: 16/13

1st Pitch Strike: 3 of 4

GO, FO, K: 0, 0, 3

H, BB: 1, O

RA/ER: 0/0

Second Inning

Martinez looked sharp with a 96-98 mph fast ball in the frame, painting the outside corner with lots of run. The slider backed up a bit, but still had enough movement to miss Marlins barrels.

Martinez threw a nice 1-2 changeup to Chris Johnson to get him to roll over to Ruben Tejada at shortstop. So far, 25 pitches with 20 strikes for Martinez.

Pitching with a 1-0 lead thanks to Tejada’s double to score Jeremy Hazelbaker, Martinez looks comfortable and in command.

Pitches/Strikes: 9/7

1st Pitch Strike: 1 of 3

GO, FO, K: 1, 2, 0

H, BB: 0, 0

RA/ER: 0, 0

Third Inning

After allowing Adeiny Hechavarria to shoot an 0-1 fastball through the right side, Martinez temporarily lost command, going from 0-2 to 3-2 against Marlins pitcher Tom Koehler.

Martinez responded by painting a 94 mph fastball on the outside corner. Martinez painted a fastball on a 2-2 count against Ichiro for back-to-back strikeouts looking.

On the first pitch to Realmuto, Martinez made a nice leaping grab on a come backer to retire the Marlin catcher 1-3 and send the Cards to the bottom of the third up 1-0.

Pitches/Strikes: 14/9

1st Pitch Strike: 3 of 4

GO, FO, K: 1, 0, 2

H, BB: 1, 0

RA/ER: 0/0

Fourth Inning

Martinez looks locked in, and if this were a regular season game, he would definitely be in a position to go deep into this ballgame.

He got Dietrich to pop up a 2-2 changeup before getting Stanton to fly out to center on a first pitch 97 mph fastball down and in.

Martinez got Prado down 0-2, barely missed with a slider, then got the 8-year vet to pop up another change up to Tejada at short for a 1-2-3 top of the 4th.

With the pitch count at just 50, Martinez will go out to start the 5th.

Pitches/Strikes: 11/8

1st Pitch Strike: 2 of 3

GO, FO, K: 0, 3, 0

H, BB: 0, 0

RA/ER: 0, 0

Fifth Inning

Martinez looked as though he might be showing signs of fatigue when he walked leadoff man Chris Johnson after getting ahead 1-2.

He went 3-0 to Miguel Rojas, and the wheels started turning in the Cardinal bullpen. But, Martinez worked his way back to a full count, then threw another sharp slider to induce a 6-4-3 double play.

Martinez would retire the next man on a 6-3 groundout, leaving his final pitch count at 67.

Pitches/Strikes: 17/9

1st Pitch Strike: 2 of 3

GO, FO, K: 2, 0, 0

H, BB: 0, 1

RA/ER: 0, 0

Martinez’s Line: 

5.0 Innings, 2 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 67 pitches (46 strikes), 1st pitch strike to 11 of 17 hitters

Martinez looked great today. He only got himself into any sort of trouble once, and immediately got himself out with the double play ball in the 5th.

More from St Louis Cardinals News

Like I said, Martinez looked like he was ready to go deep into this ball game. He had a five or six pitch stretch of flying open in the 5th, but other than that, he looked really strong.

He let his arm work free and easy, and he had the same sharp and dramatic movement on all three of his pitches that we are used to seeing.

Judging off of today’s performance, Carlos sure looks like he is going to be ready at the start of April. With all those aforementioned off days to start the year, Martinez could be seen in a late innings situation or two, serving as a bullpen of sorts.

Martinez is likely to see at least one more spring start before the club heads north, as well.

Next: Buffa says it's time to get over Pujols

Adam Wainwright is scheduled to start tomorrow against the Nationals at 12:05 CT from Viera, FL.

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