St. Louis Cardinals: Alex Reyes is headed down the Martinez route
St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Alex Reyes has shown some concerning similarities to fellow Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez.
When St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Alex Reyes surrendered a walkoff grand slam against the Milwaukee Brewers on Sept. 5, the only question was how much worse it could get. After all, he had given up a walkoff home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates just a week earlier (on his birthday, no less), and it was clear to any viewer that he would have rather been anywhere besides a baseball field.
Reyes showed every bit of his old prospect hype in the first half of the season, making the All-Star team and setting the rookie record for most consecutive saves. But the wheels have fallen off in the second half, and the resemblance to Carlos Martinez has grown more uncanny.
Like Reyes, Martinez has often battled his control and tantalized fans with his potential, but he’s never been able to put it all together. Reyes seemed to do just that in the first half, but remaining elite over an entire season is a whole different beast.
But what has really set off the warning bells is how Reyes has adapted to his struggles — or, more accurately, how he hasn’t. Reyes’ mannerisms when coming into games recently have not been positive, as this Tweet illustrates, and on a pitch repertoire side, Reyes continues to wrestle with the strike zone and throw sinker after sinker, which is his pitch that batters clobber the most, according to Baseball Savant.
Martinez has also seemed to have trouble keeping staying collected under pressure, and bad situations tended to snowball on him. Those situations were put under a microscope with Martinez in the closer’s spot, and if Reyes is going to have a late-inning role of any sort, he needs to show that he has the mental toughness to overcome rough stretches and see each outing as a new opportunity.
There’s still time for Reyes to show that he can be an outstanding pitcher, although it might not come in the rotation; he simply doesn’t have the control to last in a starting role. Martinez, too, has shown that the rotation is not his best place to pitch, and while there were hopes early in his career he could be a stud starter, those have all but evaporated.
Reyes is also coming off Tommy John surgery, and when he’s another year removed from that, he could show another gear. Control is often the last skill to come back for a pitcher who has undergone that operation.
I feel that we have seen the best of the infuriatingly inconsistent Martinez, but I’m not giving up hope on Reyes yet. He showed a lot of promise in his first full healthy season, and this is likely the first major struggle he’s endured at any level of his baseball career, so it makes sense that he’s not used to handling anything other than success.
Fans need to hope and believe Reyes can get everything ironed out, because otherwise, he’s going to keep traveling down Carlos Court — and those types of streets are usually dead ends.