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Carlos Martínez is going to be a reliever - A Hunt and Peck

at least for now.

St Louis Cardinals Photo Day Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Before the season even began, the Cardinals released the bad news that Carlos Martínez experience a setback in his training over the offseason and his 2019 debut would be delayed. The extent of the injury is not really known to those not with the team, but the hope was that with treatment and rest Carlos would be ready to take the mound soon.

When Martínez will return is still a bit unknown, but apparently when he does, it will be in a relief role. Per Mark Saxon of The Athletic:

This decision comes as a bit of a surprise considering one: it was Carlos’s wish to return to the rotation and two: Carlos has the most upside as a starter. It is also puzzling considering the Cardinals could kind of use a starter right now. Per Fangraphs the team currently ranks 29th in stater fWAR, 21st in ERA, 28th in FIP, and have the highest home run per flyball rate of any team at 23.8% — drastic increase from their 2018 rate of 10.3%. For context, the Rockies, who play half their games on the moon, have a flyball rate of 15.3% in 2019 and since that is a small sample size, in 2018 it was 13.9%, and 2017 it was 15.7%. Dakota Hudson and Jack Flaherty have been the biggest culprits in 2019 when it comes to giving up the longball. In four starts Hudson has given up eight homers. Flaherty has been taken deep seven times in five games. That is already more than the five home runs Martínez gave up in 100 innings in 2018.

The Saxon tweet does clarify this decision was because of how Carlos felt, and while that looks like a good enough reason on the surface, it still does not fully explain the move. There is not really any evidence that suggests relieving is any less stressful on the pitcher’s arm as opposed to starting. In fact, a lot anecdotal evidence given from pitchers seems to suggest the opposite. Pitching is bad no matter the role; common sense argues that maximizing Carlos’s value while he can pitch would be the smartest move for the team.

Perhaps it is Carlos that changed his mind about starting, though it would be quite a change-of-heart for him to go from declaring “I’m going to start, man” to choosing to relieve. Unless the extent of Carlos’s injury is made public, there is probably no way to know for sure the true motives behind the decision. It does seem like a lost opportunity, though, and if this was plan all along, it certainly makes the Cardinals decision to not even appear to attempt to add a starter questionable at best.

Carlos Martinez To Return As Reliever | MLB Trade Rumors

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