When looking for late round pitchers with upside a nice perk is power. It is apparent that baseball has been trending towards pitching so it will be discussed about how to script a draft and fill our rosters as the season approaches. Some like to hoard aces early and fill out offense later, while others ignore pitchers early in drafts stocking up on offense. Given the volatility and availability of pitchers during a season, I prefer offense early and find high upside pitchers to add later on. One of the components that is appealing to me from a pitching perspective is power.
“Power is the most persuasive rhetoric.” –Friedrich Schiller
With that in mind I was drawn to the following tweet:
Carlos Martinez fits the bill as his velocities from 2014 will exemplify. During winter ball, Martinez has fanned 22 while walking none. Sexy. Combine a post-hype sleeper on a contender that throws free and easy and is harnessing his repertoire and you have a player to target. How hard does Martinez throw you ask? Here is his velocity chart from last year according to BrooksBaseball.net:
For reference, Yordano Ventura comes to mind when thinking about Martinez transitioning to the rotation. While Ventura throws a cutter instead of a slider, you can see a similar trend in velocity:
What will determine Carlos Martinez’s fantasy value will be whether or not he can make the same type of jump that Ventura has. Also, we need the Cardinals to allow him to stay in the role, not move him between the rotation and the bullpen like they did last season. In 2014 Martinez used his changeup with great success and combined that with his slider to finish off opposing hitters. His fastball was very hittable according to his results and averages though:
However, Martinez’s whiff rates on his change and slider warrant attention. With a full season as a starter and Yadier Molina calling his games, Martinez has real profit potential. Although his batting averages against as a starter will need to improve, look at his glorious 9.5 K/9 in his seven starts, higher than his 7.9 K/9 as a reliever:
This type of pick does not come without any risk, just ask the guy in your league that drafted Danny Salazar last year. But with his velocity and ability to strike batters out, Martinez is a player to put into the queue and pounce when given the opportunity. He will not carry fantasy owners to a championship but he should be able to get wins on a good Cardinal team and may come without the fanfare of other pitchers since he will be battling to win the fifth starters job. While the projections seem to agree that Martinez will have success, they agree that his K/9 will regress back towards his number as a reliever:
What will determine Martinez’s potential breakout as a starting pitcher is dependent upon not only his ability to strike batters out but keeping them off base. Although his WHIP over the last two seasons has been 1.41, Steamer projects his WHIP at 1.3 and ZiPS has it at 1.31. The last factor that intrigues me is that Martinez had a gaudy 1.88 GB/FB ratio in 2014. Fewer line drives, more strikeouts and a career 51.5 GB% make Martinez a pitcher to target. Being on a winning team and throwing to a respected catcher and game caller like Yadier Molina only enhances that. If the Cardinals do name him the fifth starter, I could see a 12 win season with 150+ strikeouts in 2015. Power pitchers who generate groundballs are players I like to target, if that isn’t persuasive rhetoric for Carlos Martinez, I am not sure what is.
My 2015 Carlos Martinez Projection: 12 W, 175 IP, 158/43 K/BB, 3.72 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 8.1 K/9
Statistical credits: Baseball-reference.com, Fangraphs.com, BrooksBaseball.net
Photo cred: http://goo.gl/VujW4b
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Greg Jewett is The Sports Script’s senior fantasy baseball writer. Follow him on Twitter @gjewett9!