Whether starting or relieving, since his debut in 2013 Carlos Martínez has been a valuable pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. Per Baseball Reference the value is quantified in the amount of 14.3 rWAR during that time. A bulk of that value has come as a starter — an expected result as he has amassed over 712 innings in that role as opposed to just over 152 as reliever.
And there-in lies the problem with Carlos Martínez, Reliever. He has certainly had success pitching out of the role, but he has had equal success as a starter. It makes the decision to put him in the bullpen for 2019 a puzzling one.
Perhaps the reason was for health and the idea was to intentionally limit his innings, but even so, many claim that bullpen innings are just as harmful to an arm, if not more harmful, than throwing on a regular schedule like a starter. Furthermore, if the team wants to limit the workload for Carlos Martínez, it still seems like the best way to maximize his value would be to have him start.
Either way, it seems this puzzling decision might not be re-made in 2020. Per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch:
Martinez recently was cleared to begin a throwing program, and both the Cardinals and the former All-Star hope that he can return to the rotation for 2020. Hope being the agreed-upon verb.
A healthy Carlos Martínez would provide a nice jolt to the rotation which is something the Cardinals probably would not mind having.
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