St. Louis Cardinals: Stick with Carlos Martinez in the 9th
By Matt Graves
Last night’s appearance may have hurt the confidence in the St. Louis Cardinals’ closer but why is he still the best option for the closer role?
When Carlos Martinez first slid into the closer’s role for the St. Louis Cardinals back in July, he frequently made games a bit more interesting than they should’ve been. In July, he was frequently the human embodiment of “bend but don’t break.” It wasn’t a super fun way for games to end but at the end of the day, Martinez got the job done.
After the 1.636 WHIP Martinez had in July, he lowered that to 1.375 in August, and then even more to 0.714 in September. He has gotten better and better in the closer role as he’s gotten more comfortable and had more experience.
Over the whole season, Martinez has only blown three saves in 24 opportunities. While Thursday night’s game wasn’t a blown save in the scorebook, it was Martinez’s performance caused the lead to be lost. Looking around the other closers in the National League, Martinez ranks near the top in percentage of saves converted. It may not feel like it, but the Cardinals have a stud.
One game shouldn’t change that view.
It’s very difficult to stay unbiased when Martinez blew a three-run lead last night spoiled the performance by Jack Flaherty and the Cardinals were one pitch away from losing. It is 100% necessary to do it though.
Thursday night was just a rough game for Martinez and for reference, that was the first run Martinez had allowed since August 18th. Over a month ago.
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The key moment for last night was when Martinez walked the first batter of the ninth. This was the perfect example of why walking the first batter of the inning in pressure situations because how do you think that makes the Cubs feel? It gives them confidence having a player on first base to start and it puts the pitcher on the ropes.
Martinez didn’t have it last night and that’s gonna happen every once in a while. There is an argument to be made that he should’ve been pulled from the game earlier, but Mike Shildt made the move to Andrew Miller before the game was lost and in a series like this one that’s the important thing.
The Cardinals went on to win the game which is what matters. Martinez’s bad night shouldn’t change how anyone views the 27-year-old closer nor should it keep Shildt from using him in any other game this series.
There shouldn’t be any worry about Carlos Martinez. It was just a bad night. Closers need a short memory and I would venture to guess this was another good lesson in the importance of the first batter of an inning for Martinez.