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Breaking down the Tsunamy: Carlos Martinez and his first big league start in 2014

Carlos Martinez got his first big league start of the year last night and showed some absolutely electric stuff. How electric? We go under the Pitch F/X hood to get a good solid look courtesy of

Dilip Vishwanat

First things first, and apropos of nothing, I'm throwing up this chart just because I've not seen one quite like it before:

Yes, you're reading that chart correctly: That's peak velocity from Martinez start last night.  Just a tick over 101 with the fourseamer, 98.5 with the sinker. The averages were quite a bit lower (98 mph for the 4 seam and 97 for the sinker), obviously, but you really did see Gameday light up 101 a couple of times last night -- Brooks confirms it.

Now I want to show you something even more ridiculous:

So not only is he throwing 98 - 101 mph, he's throwing that hard with 3.5 inches of tail from the release point. Generally when you see a pitcher who throws as hard at Martinez did last night, they have trouble creating any kind of movement on their pitches due to the amount of velocity at which they're throwing. Not Carlos: He's running his fastball in on a right handed hitter, and backing that up with a sinker that's thrown just a tad slower, that moves even more inside and a change up that makes Jamie Garcia's fastball blush.

Both the sinker and change have arm side fade -- the sinker moves in a bit more, the change drops another inch or so off the vertical plane as well as being throw 6-7 mph slower:

And we haven't even really talked about that slider yet.  Yes, this slider.

Poor Eric Young Jr., that just isn't fair.  Don't worry, though, David Wright got much of the same the inning before (fast forward to 28 seconds). This video only shows the second one, which is the one Wright struck out on. The one before it was even more impressive in terms of late breaking movement: Martinez started it right at Wright's rib cage and it ended up over the lower middle of the plate for a strike, with movement that literally looked liked someone was steering it across the plate.

Martinez has electric stuff.  Command, though?  Not so great:

He's a bit all over the place, but at least he's living down in the zone for the most part (although all the vertical movement would make it really hard to pitch up in the zone I would imagine). Futhermore, when all your pitches have as much movement as Carlos' do, it's probably going to be pretty hard to command from time to time.


However, this is something he's got to be able to do if he's going to make it as a starting pitcher. For a comparison, here's Adam Wainwright's last start:

Wainwright doesn't live in the zone, but what he does do is pitch to certain spots of it.  That's something that Martinez is going to have to pick up on and be able to accomplish. If he does, that makes his wicked stuff that much more unhittable that it already is.

See what I mean?  Nobody got the bat on either the changeup or the slider last night. If they swung, they swung and missed. Bobby Abreu's been around the game a long time and he looked helpless against the changeup Martinez threw him to get the first out of the second inning (FF to 15 seconds).

The potential is there. The stuff is potent already. The only question is whether Martinez can command his arsenal well enough to be able to pitch into the 6th and 7th innings consistently, something he would have struggled to do last night even if he had been on a standard starter's pitch count.