Is St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez primed for a bounce back season?
There has been increased optimism around the St. Louis Cardinals organization that pitcher Carlos Martinez could be in for a bounce back season in 2020. That buzz continued Friday, with manager Mike Shildt telling Jon Morosi on MLB Network Radio that Martinez had an “impressive” initial bullpen in Jupiter, Fla.
The buzz surrounding Martinez has been strong since he pitched in the Dominican Winter League, making five appearances and allowing just six runs over 26.2 innings while striking out 30 hitters. If he is able to translate that success consistently during spring training, he could become a real asset for the Cardinals this season. Redbird Rants’ Matt Graves even predicted that Martinez would become the fifth starter.
Martinez, 29, dealt with COVID-19 last season and Shildt admitted that it “hampered” him. Martinez struggled to the tune of a 9.90 ERA in 20 innings with a 17/10 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Shildt indicated that Martinez has fully recovered from it, and his success in the DWL — along with a positive first bullpen session in spring training — would seem to confirm that.
If the Cardinals are able to get increased production from Martinez, and possibly something similar to what he produced in his earlier seasons, it could go a long way toward helping them compete with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. With teams increasingly concerned about pitching depth, the Cardinals having Martinez — and possibly another pitcher or two step up — would help quiet those concerns as they grow louder this winter.
Of course, it is highly unlikely that Martinez puts together a season that convinces the Cardinals to pick up his $17 million club option for the 2022 season. But a bounce back campaign could help Martinez land a multi-year contract in free agency or to remain in St. Louis.
Martinez is off to a good start. Now he just needs to sustain it.