In what was highly anticipated to be a duel versus fellow 2017 National League All-Star Max Scherzer, Carlos Martinez ended up pitching very poorly last night (and the Cardinals lost 7-2). Even the game’s best pitchers struggle sometimes, especially when facing off against one of the game’s best hitters (Bryce Harper). Today’s post will be indefinitely archived as my 432nd post as an editor for Viva El Birdos. And if you have followed me from the beginning — with my first, non-introductory post being published way back on January 8th, 2014 — you probably understand that Martinez was a big part of what I have written over the last 1,273 days (3.488 years of service time). I didn’t take the time to scroll through each one of my posts, but I’d estimate that at least 50% of them were about Martinez in some way.
Back when Ben Humphrey was in charge — honestly, I cannot thank Ben enough for his steady guidance through a rocky staff transition (the site manager after the great danup and before Ben left permanently and anonymously after only three or four days) — I asked him to create a “PitchF/x” tag to use for my posts. At that point, I had made the decision that pitch analysis was the direction in which I wanted to go. You can read game recaps all over the internet — including here, but ours are usually presented in a much more entertaining manner. You can read about hitting — statistics, mechanics, etc. — in nearly as many places. But when it comes to the intricacies of pitching — my absolute favorite part of baseball — the analysis is limited with Eno Sarris of FanGraphs and Harry Pavlidis of Baseball Prospectus standing out in particular. And those two are national writers, so they cannot focus on the Cardinals. Locally, outside of spring training, pitch analysis content is virtually nonexistent.
I do not, in the least bit, claim to be an expert when it comes to pitching, but know that my goal way back when I started writing at my own site — www.stlcupofjoe.com — was to do my best to explain why pitchers are successful or conversely, why they are not successful. Here is where BrooksBaseball.net — and more recently, BaseballSavant.com — come in. These two sites have been and will continue to be tremendous resources, publicly available to everyone, to help learn why their favorite pitcher was able to strike out a rival slugger in one at bat but then allowed a ~500 foot home run in another. While some of you may disagree, I feel like I did an adequate job analyzing the successes and downfalls of Cardinal pitchers over the years. My work improved drastically more recently, when the legendary @cardinalsgifs helped provide visuals to back up what I was trying to say.
Beyond pitching, I was fortunate enough to host numerous player Q&A’s — mainly with prospects but also ranging as high up as Carlos Martinez (thanks to the always helpful Jonathan Rodriguez). I learned about pitch grips from Tyrell Jenkins — who was eventually involved in the trade for Jason Heyward. As a registered pharmacist, I periodically enjoyed crossing over into medical-related topics as well. This one on the use of prescription stimulants is easily one of my all-time favorites. I could link to more of my favorite posts (like this one about Martinez clearing the final hurdle), but instead, you can click on my SB Nation author page link page, where each post is currently archived.
I’ve reached the point where this is getting too long and I need to acknowledge some great people. First and foremost, thank you to SB Nation’s MLB league manager, Justin Bopp, for believing in me during the aforementioned staff transition. An email from the Cardinals’ scouting director at the time (Dan Kantrovitz) certainly helped my case. As I already said above, I cannot thank Ben enough for what he did for VEB and me. I grew tremendously under him, as a writer, an analyst, and a fan of the game. Next is Craig Edwards. Before he became site manager, Craig and I were tasked with putting out enough content to satisfy our overlords while retaining the quality to please our readers. He is amazing at what he does — hence, the spot at FanGraphs — and I was thrilled to find out he was taking over when Ben stepped down.
A most sincere thank you to rest of the staff — the red baron, Heather, John, Alex, Ben M., Ben G., Josey, the game recappers (and anyone else I may have missed inadvertently) — as well. Oftentimes, I’d turn to them for topics, or at the very least, their honest opinion of the topic I had been thinking about. If I needed an edit prior to publishing — some VEB commenters can be ruthless — each one of them readily volunteered to help.
Finally, I must thank all of you, the readers. I’d be lying if I told you that I ignored our site’s view totals, especially on days in which I published something. Sure, I enjoy writing, but if no one is reading, what’s the point in continuing to write something that ends up being nothing more than an online diary. Back when I first began, I could have sworn no one beyond my immediate family would openly choose to read (or even seek out) what I had to say. Well the deeper I got into my analysis, it is all of you that ended up reading and appreciating what I had to say — largely because much of the PitchF/x stuff was of zero interest to most of my family.
Bottom line, it was an honor and a privilege to write here at Viva El Birdos. If you are still reading and haven’t yet figured out where this is going, I am moving on from VEB, effective immediately and at my own choosing. Don’t worry, though, as the site is, without a doubt, in good hands under Craig and the rest of the staff. I look forward to seeing the content produced the rest of the season and beyond, as I truly believe it’s the best Cardinals site on the internet.
Thank you for reading...and goodbye for a little while.
P.S. A huge thank you to my wife for putting up with my very early morning alarms. As some of you already know, I rarely wrote a post the night before, because of prime time distractions (and a little bit of ADHD), but also the fact that I wanted the most up-to-date data prior to publishing.
You can always find me on Twitter: @stlCupofJoe.