I’m sure you all know the background of the Pedro Martinez situation. One of the best pitchers in baseball, a huge signing for the Mets franchise in 2005, had rotator cuff surgery in the offseason and hasn’t pitched this year. Well, with Pedro likely one rehab start away from returning to the Mets, I thought we might look at what type of fantasy production we should expect from him in September.
First, let’s check out how he’s fared in his four rehabs starts.
08/08/07 | R | 3 IP | 67 Pitches | 5 K | 0 BB
08/14/07 | R | 4 IP | 60 Pitches | 3 K | 1 BB | 5 days rest (+20 pitches in the bullpen afterward)
08/20/07 | A+ | 5 IP | 72 Pitches | 4 K | 1 BB | 5 days rest
08/27/07 | A+ | 6 IP | 88 Pitches | 4 K | 2 BB | 6 days rest
The strikeouts and walks aren’t ultra-important, especially considering it’s only against rookie and A-ball talent. We’re looking for signs that Pedro’s arm strength is back and that he is healthy.
The 88 pitches were a good sign, but that he waited six days between his third and fourth start isn’t. Still, he was supposed to pitch on Sunday in Double-A and was bumped to Monday so he could pitch in Florida, so I don’t think that should be too much of a concern. He was ready to go after five days.
Still, five days between starts isn’t exactly pushing it. He’ll make one more rehab start before joining the Mets, so it’ll be interesting to see how it goes.
Let’s see what Pedro is saying about his rehab and his health. After his start Monday night:
“I felt good overall. I feel like I used all my pitches, and I was getting more confident as the game went on. The first two innings I felt a little out of whack.”
Some are concerned that his velocity isn’t quite there yet. Reports indicate his fastball was working in the 84-88 mph range Monday. It’s been said that it was at 89 mph in his third start. Pedro’s response:
“I’m not trying to overdo anything. Whenever velocity is needed, I’ll click it. After the last game, we decided we were going to work on the cutter and the changeup. At this stage, when you are coming off an injury, you can’t really work on all of your pitches at once. You just want to take one at a time.”
As Pedro doesn’t rely on—and hasn’t thrown too many—mid-90s fastballs in recent years, I think that part of his game should be fine. After one more start, he should be able to work consistently in the 87-89 mph range, mixing in a couple in the 90-92 range. I’m not too concerned about his velocity. He has succeeded in recent years at a level very similar to where it is now.
What will be key for Martinez is, first and foremost, his ability to remain healthy and continue building up arm strength. After that, he will simply need to have good command of his pitches to be an effective starter. As he doesn’t need to crank his fastball up much higher, he will need only to regain his old control and his old approach, which I think is a much smaller problem than many rehabbing pitchers face.
It seems Martinez agrees with this setiment, and it’s encouraging to see that this is his focus:
“It’s more about me getting command of my pitches than who I’m facing.”
In one situation where the manager wanted him to walk a batter, he wanted to test himself:
“No, this is the situation I want, to see if I can make pitches, test myself. That was actually the key for the whole workout.”
It’s great to see that Martinez is working on his different pitches and is expressing pleasure with his progress. There’s not much more you could hope to see before he actually returns. Here’s another quote from after the game:
“My arm feels great.”
Don’t get too excited
While he threw all of his pitches, there are signs that he is still not completely confident in them. He’ll reportedly throw his next bullpen session as if it were a simulated game, and make one more start against live batters before joining the Mets. In regard to his start Monday and the coming bullpen session, he had this to say:
“I’ll continue to work on my changeup and my cutter, especially the back-door ones.”
Those were the pitches he was working on Monday night, and I guess he still doesn’t feel that they are where they need to be.
Overall, I have confidence in Pedro. His head seems to be in the right place. Hopefully, that will evolve into results—namely command of his pitches. He isn’t there yet, but I think he is well on his way.
After his next rehab start, we’ll look at the numbers he has put up in the past and the ones we expect him to put up in the rest of the regular season. For now, he needs to be owned in all leagues. The upside is there for him to be a dominant starter, at least for three starts. If he is still available and you need a starter who could help in four categories, pick him up.