What Carlos Martinez stepping up means for the St Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals’ rotation entered the regular season with many questions. Would Jack Flaherty bounce back from his 2020 performance? Would Adam Wainwright still be effective in his age-39 season? Who would fill out the back-end of the rotation, especially with Kwang-hyun Kim and Miles Mikolas missing time with injuries?
The answer to the last question — part of it, at least — was Carlos Martinez. Even then, how he performed in 2021 would go a long ways toward how 1) the Cardinals would approach the trade deadline and 2) how successful they would be considering the increased importance of pitching depth.
The early results were not promising. Martinez allowed 13 runs in his first 15 innings. He had only 10 strikeouts and four walks in that span. But in his last two starts, he has allowed only three runs (two earned) in 13.1 innings while giving up only six hits. His progress was highlighted in a 7.1 inning appearance against the Philadelphia Phillies on Tuesday night where he allowed only two hits and one earned run.
“The tsunami is coming,” Martinez said, via Katie Woo of The Athletic.
“That’s so beautiful,” manager Mike Shildt responded.
Getting Martinez to bounce back, and even show signs of getting back to his 2016 self where he won 16 games and held a 3.04 ERA in 195.1 innings, would be the biggest development yet for the Cardinals. He was easily the biggest concern in the rotation entering the season and his emergence makes them an even more dangerous team and allows the bullpen to get much-needed rest after eating a significant amount of innings to start the season.
It’s on Martinez to keep this going. But the early signs, especially from last night, have to have the entire organization optimistic about what is to come — and what it could mean for their playoff chances.