With the First Win Under Our Belts, Let’s Move On to Carlos Martinez Day in Atlanta
After a rough series in Pittsburgh, the Cardinals have officially moved on. With the amazing comeback win last night versus the Braves, we must now look at the world in an optimistic light. Tonight, Mike Matheny will send Carlos Martinez out as the starting pitcher and all we have to do is sit back and watch.
Throughout the offseason and Spring Training, lofty expectations have been placed on Martinez. He was touted as a sleeper candidate for the National League Cy Young award, the best #5 starter in the MLB, and the next in line as the true Cardinals ace. While some of these expectations may seem unreasonable at first glance, they are a little bit closer to reality than some might expect.
You know who I think would've made a good start at PNC? Carlos Martinez, who's been inexplicably banished to the 5-spot. #STLCards
— John Rabe (@johnrabe) April 6, 2016
In 2015, Martinez went 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA, 4.0 WAR, and 184 strikeouts in 29 games started. Unfortunately, he was unable to be a factor in the 2015 playoffs due to a shoulder problem that forced Mike Matheny to shut him down for the duration of the playoffs. In Spring Training, all Martinez has done is erase the doubts of Cardinals fans and management about the health of his shoulder.
Grapefruit League play was kind to Martinez, as he pitched 15 and 2/3 innings with a 2.30 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 16 strikeouts, and only three walks allowed. Most importantly, Martinez showed all of his fans that his velocity is just the same as it was during his peak in 2015. The shoulder issues seem to be fully behind Martinez, giving Cardinals fans plenty of hope for 2016.
Oh yeah, what about those Cy Young chances? Well, I’m not saying that Martinez is the National League favorite, but if he continues to produce like he did in 2015 and is able to stay healthy, who’s going to stop him? His ERA was 3.01 last season, so if he can just drop that by 0.2 points he will be a serious candidate from the start of the season. Then, if he hovers around 200 strikeouts again and can gather anywhere from 15-18 wins, he should be one of the favorites by season’s end. It will be interesting to see how this race will play out, as there are plenty of young, talented arms in the National League.
Tonight, however, Martinez and all Cardinals fans should not pay any attention to the Cy Young race, and focus on what Martinez can do to help the team win. After a comeback win last night, the team definitely has momentum going into tonight and Martinez is the perfect pitcher to capitalize on that momentum. If he is able to shut down the Braves, it will have a lot more fans calming down and taking a deep breath after the sweep in Pittsburgh.
At the very least, let’s all just be happy the team has a W under their belts and that it’s finally Carlos Martinez day.