St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Martinez excels in DWL playoffs

St. Louis Cardinals starter Carlos Martinez made his second start for the Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League on Sunday and was dominant.

There isn’t much baseball going on in the United States right now but across Central America, winter baseball is in full swing. This winter, multiple St. Louis Cardinals players are participating in the Dominican Winter League including Carlos Martinez.

Martinez had a very tough year in 2020 after he was hospitalized with COVID-19 during the Cardinals’ outbreak this summer. Martinez was limited to just 20 innings on the season and will have to re-earn his spot in the rotation heading into 2021.

2021 is a huge year for as it is the final guaranteed year of his current contract. After he makes $11.7M in 2021, he has two team option years at $17M and $18M. It would take a lot from Martinez for his option to be picked up in 2022, but he’s putting in work this winter to make sure he’s right when spring comes.

After sickness, an oblique strain, and just 20 innings pitched, throwing in the DWL to stay fresh makes a lot of sense. In his first start with the Aguilas Cibaenas, Martinez threw 3.1 innings, striking out four and allowing one run. He didn’t throw that many pitches and it was great to see him not walk any batters.

On Sunday, Martinez made his second start in a playoff game and did much better.

Throwing 82 pitches over 6.0 innings, Martinez kept the Toros del Este off the board completely and allowed just three hits, striking out six. Martinez did walk two batters, but his stuff looked really good against a lineup that featured a couple of major leaguers, namely Miguel Andujar and Yasiel Puig.

Martinez got a ton of ground balls and did a good job of getting the ball on the inside of the plate on right-handers. He didn’t look like he was in a hurry on the mound and didn’t show much emotion, but his stuff looked good and the results were very encouraging.

This line from Martinez is about what is expected from an eight-year MLB vet against lesser talent, but it is still a positive sign to see him be able to locate and command the zone as he did.

The Aguilas lost the game in the end, but no runs were scored by either side with Martinez in the game. Irrelevant but interesting, Martinez faced off against 43-year-old former Cardinals legend Raul Valdez, who blanked the Aguilas over five innings.

Overall, this start doesn’t mean much other than Martinez is staying competitive this winter. If his 2021 goes like his 2020, Martinez is in danger of losing his job in the MLB and hopefully that is a motivating factor for him.

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It is unclear if Martinez will get another start for the Aguilas as their season is nearly over. However, the two starts he has made have both been encouraging signs if nothing else.