That past few years have been up and down for Carlos Martínez. After being selected to his second All Star team in 2017, 2018 saw the young pitcher on and off the Injured List with injuries. He suffered injuries to his lat and then his obliques. The Cardinals started using him primarily out of the bullpen to help reduce his injury chances.
2019 did not bring much relief to the injury misfortune. Carlos started the year on the Injured List and then was used a reliever when he finally returned, converting 24 saves in 27 opportunities. 2020 was already a shortened season and Carlos missed time after contracting COVID-19 and struggled mightily that season, possibly due to all of these things. After the 2020 season ended, Carlos pitched well in the offseason in the Dominican League and was ready to put this bad luck behind him.
His first two games were unremarkable, his third game did not go well, but the last two games have shown a little glimmer of a rebound. Four strikeouts isn’t a particularly flashy amount, but just over 7 innings pitched is the deepest Martínez has gone in a game in a while — the last time he pitched at least 7 innings was back on July 7, 2018. That also appears to be the date of his last win as a starting pitcher.
It is way too early to be making bold proclamations that Carlos Martínez is back and you certainly won’t catch me doing that, but I will say it has been a while since I have felt as much at ease watching him work than I did on Tuesday evening. The potential has always been there — just a tweak off from being something special — but injury seems to have dimmed the bright future many envisioned for the once young and shiny, new pitcher. Maybe Martínez will never reach the unfairly high expectations we had set for him back in 2013, but maybe he doesn’t need to.
It sure was fun watching him elevate a high hard one to strike out Bryce Harper, at least.
Like this Dan Moore guy (hmmm that sounds really familiar), I also would not be opposed to this:
Carlos Martinez becoming a successful junkballer who scrapes by on grit and command and gets a little too much rope from the manager because he's a vet is the perfect narrative reversal and I hope it never ends— Dan Moore (@mademdashes) April 28, 2021