Will World Baseball Classic participants Carlos Martinez and Seung-Hwan Oh be on track for the beginning of the St. Louis Cardinals season?
St. Louis Cardinals Staff ace Carlos Martinez and closer Seung-Hwan Oh will both be on the Opening Day roster without inhibitions. Neither have had any health concerns this Spring, and they’ll be serving in key roles as soon as the regular season begins.
Martinez will return to Cardinals camp this week after his native Dominican Republic got bounced in the second round of pool play over the weekend. Oh was back in camp after South Korea failed to move past the first round of pool play.
Part of the hesitancy major league organizations have about their pitchers participating in the Classic is the workload their players are getting while away from the team. In a typical Spring Training, each team is able to closely monitor its pitchers and schedule them to appear to their liking in order to maximize their readiness for Opening Day.
Starting pitchers need to build up stamina so that they can pitch deep into ballgames once the regular season begins, and relievers must also be built up for potential multi-inning outings and appearances in consecutive games.
This is a concern that the St. Louis Cardinals are familiar with. Back in 2013, Mitchell Boggs idled in Team USA’s bullpen in March and imploded as the St. Louis closer in April.
Oh appeared in only two games for Team Korea. He hurled 3 1/3 scoreless innings, allowed only one hit and one walk, and struck out six. The Final Boss is a living legend in Korea and performed well for his country in his fourth World Baseball Classic.
Back in the Grapefruit League this spring, Oh has appeared in three games and allowed three runs, but all of those runs came before he departed for the Classic. In two games since returning for Korea, he’s struck out two and allowed only one hit in two innings of work.
When Oh returned last week, Mike Matheny gave a vote of confidence in his closer:
"“He’s ready. We knew when we sent him to the WBC that he was going to be ready when he came back. He looks great.”"
Since Oh was only away from Florida for one round of the Classic, there shouldn’t be any concern regarding his readiness for the season. 2017 will be his second year in major league baseball, but the 34-year old is a baseball veteran. He knows what he needs to do to be ready to go for a long, grueling season.
Carlos Martinez made two starts for the Dominican Republic, one against Team Canada in the first round, and the other against Team Puerto Rico in the second round. Both outings lasted four innings. He allowed three runs (only one was earned), six hits, three walks, and struck out eight in total.
For analysis of Carlos’ first start in the WBC, head over to this link.
For analysis of his second start, head over to this link.
In major league Spring Training, Martinez made one start before departing for the Classic, throwing three scoreless innings against the Mets. Expect him to be back on the mound for the Cardinals sometime later this week.
Martinez has made three starts in total leading up to the season. The most pitches he’s thrown in one game this spring is seventy-one, in his start against Puerto Rico. Compared to his St. Louis teammates in the rotation, he’s a bit behind. Wainwright, Leake, and Lynn have made four starts each so far this spring. Wacha has made five.
Had the Dominican Republic advanced to the semifinal round of the Classic, Martinez would have made his fourth start of the spring in the coming days. He’s got two weeks to build up for a potential Opening Day assignment April 2. That should be enough time for him to be completely ready to go as the premier starter in the St. Louis rotation.
It was fun to see Oh and Martinez represent their countries as two of the best pitchers on their respective international staffs. The same will be the case this summer, as the pair will also be two of the best pitchers for the St. Louis Cardinals.