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Thursday, February 4, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: CARLOS MARTINEZ SP ST. LOUIS CARDINALS

It has been a bit since we discussed another fantasy baseball draft bust for 2016 but today we delve into a young and powerful arm that many who take part in our fake game will be heavily after.  That arm belongs to St. Louis Cardinals 24-year-old fireballer Carlos Martinez who took the league by storm in his first full season as a starter in 2015.  The hight-powered right arm of Martinez was looked at as a major curiosity by the Cardinals who had him pitch out of the bullpen the year prior with mixed results.  So with Martinez fully unleashed from the beginning of 2015, the results were mroe than impressive based on the numbers:

14-7
3.01 ERA
1.29 WHIP
184 K/179.2 IP

What easily stands out here are both the tiny ERA and the very impressive strikeouts.  Any time a pitcher can punch out more batters then innings pitched, eyebrows get raised.  Posting a K rate of 9.22 K/9 IP is a very high number for a pitcher, especially one as young as Martinez.  Martinez has the classic look of a future 200-K ace-type pitcher and that becomes even more clear when you check out his low hit rate.  Overall Martinez gave up just 168 hitsi n his 179.2 innings which helped to account for the low 3.01 ERA but he also got a bit of BABIP luck with his .318 mark.  Still Martinez' FIP ERA was 3.21 and XFIP was 3.28 which is still a tremendous number in that category.  So by all acounts Martinez looks like the real deal.

However if you dig a bit deeper. there is some trouble.  For one thing, Martinez' high 1.29 WHIP was ugly and a lot of the blame for that falls on struggles with control.  Martinez' 3.16 BB/9 was more than a little elevated but this is not a total shock considering young power pitchers such as he tend to be a liability there.  Figure on some improvement there from Martinez but his WHIP might be more like Jon Lester and not Chris Sale. 

Now perhaps the biggest issue with Martinez which could completely derail his season is health.  A major red flag cropped up during the second half of 2015 when Martinez came down with soreness in his pitching shoulder.  Any pitcher will tell you that a shoulder injury is so much more worse than a bad elbow and while Martinez seemed to emerge all right from the injury, the health risks have to be weighed heavily.  Shoulder injuries tend to re-occur which is trouble and it calls into question whether Martinez is physically capable of carring a big workload.  Also Martinez pitched DOUBLE the innings from 2014 which alone is also a major worry both for his health and for his numbers "bouncing" due to fatigue.  While the Cardinals seem confident that shutting down Martinez last September solved the shoulder problem, we won't know for sure until spring training in order to see if violating the Verducci Rules leads to injury. 

When you put it all together, Carlos Martinez is a very talented but somewhat risky pitcher for 2016.  His health is scary and the numbers could drop a bit due to arm fatigue due to the Verducci Rules violation.  Ultimately pitching is so deep that you really don't need to force yourself on Martinez and deal with potential headaches this season.  Clearly there are much safer options around you.

2016 PROJECTION:  14-8 3.26 ERA 1.28 WHIP 189 K 

 

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