Sep 3, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Carlos Martinez (44) celebrates after striking out Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen (not pictured) with runners in scoring position to end the eighth inning at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Pirates 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Carlos Martinez was named as the fifth starter in the rotation of the St. Louis Cardinals because Jaime Garcia is having shoulder trouble (again for the millionth time). While some people are salivating at the possibility of Martinez taking the rubber every fifth day, I am a little skeptical at this point.
Martinez throws absolute fire, but he has put up those numbers primarily as a reliever. As a starting pitcher, his velocity will be a little less because he will have to throw a lot more pitches in each outing. I would expect his fastball velocity to sit between 93 and 96 as a starter, which is still a plus fastball, so I have no real concerns there. Of course, the only people ever concerned about a Carlos Martinez fastball is the guy in the batter’s box.
He also has a really nice gap in velocity between his fastball and change that has been around 10 MPH in his two Major League seasons. While the difference in speed is there, I am not sure how effective his change will be as a starter. I have only seen him throw it a few times, so I would be hesitant to trust his command of this pitch.
Additionally, Carlos Martinez also has thrown a breaking pitch in his two Major League seasons to keep hitters off balance. From what I have watched, it seemed okay. Again, I really have only seen a plus fastball to date and some development of secondary pitches. Martinez is still developing his pitching arsenal, so I was actually pretty surprised at the announcement that he was named the fifth starter for the Cardinals.
The young flamethrower is not even 24 yet and has found mixed success at best in the bullpen so far in his MLB career. Martinez tried to overpower hitters with his fastball and sprinkle in an occasional off-speed pitch with varying success. Unless he has made leaps and bounds since 2014, I would be quite surprised if Martinez can put it all together right away as a starter.
In fantasy terms, I would almost completely avoid Carlos Martinez. I would be very happy if he could post a 3.75 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in terms of his development. However, that is not something that I am targeting for my fantasy team. I believe Martinez could get 150 K’s if he manages 175 innings, but his fantasy prospects are pretty thin outside of decent K numbers and win potential being on a contender.
To me, I am looking at a low floor, medium ceiling option who I would only start when I was desperate on a Sunday for some lucky innings. Carlos Martinez is still very young and could be a talented pitcher, but I want more than a plus fastball and a nice velocity gap between his four seam and change before I trust him in my fantasy staff.