St. Louis Cardinals: Carlos Martinez doesn’t impress in first start

The St. Louis Cardinals rotation has struggled this spring. That is putting it lightly.

It is only the first week of spring training. You should not overreact to early struggles. But for a unit that had the most question marks of any part of the Cardinals’ roster, it is the last thing that president of baseball operations John Mozeliak wanted to see. Those concerns only grew louder with Carlos Martinez’s poor outing on Thursday.

Martinez threw 38 pitches in a 14-0 loss to the Houston Astros, throwing less than two innings and walking three batters while failing to record a strikeout.

“You can want something really badly,” manager Mike Shildt said, via Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He’s clearly into the competition. The warmup was good. He walked to the ballpark really focused. Some counts got swung to not a favorable place. His stuff was good. First time out of spring training, so I think we can be encouraged by how the ball was coming out of his hand.”

The Cardinals hope for Martinez, 29, to win a spot in the rotation. They entered spring training optimistic about where he was at and believed he needed little time to ramp up considering he pitched very well in the Dominican Republic this offseason, sporting a 0.79 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched.

One poor spring start should not move the Cardinals off that belief, though with Jake Odorizzi lingering on the market and the rotation struggling early on, the team is going to need Martinez and others to step up. Otherwise their season could be in trouble before it even starts.

“I don’t need too much time to be ready to be 100 percent,” Martinez said. “Right now, I feel good. … I was throwing a little bit hard (Thursday), and I need to continue to be in my mind focused. … I mean, always when I come to spring, I come to work hard and be in the competition. I know the last couple of years that I could be in the starting rotation. I came to work hard and to win the position, too. I know I can make it.”