Pedro Martinez: Revisited

Sorry for missing a couple of days guys. Moving back into school took much longer than expected. Anyway, I’m all settled in now and ready for the home stretch of the fantasy baseball season.

For today, let’s take one more look at Pedro Martinez, who I talked about the other day as well.

Command

I said the other day that — aside from remaining healthy — the most important thing for Pedro to do will be to have command of his pitches. Here are two quotes, the first from Pedro and the second from Paul Lo Duca, on the subject.

“I feel like I can probably throw a little harder, but there’s no need. I need to get command of the pitches. From 85 to 88, if I have command of my pitches, I’ll get anybody out. I wouldn’t hesitate to say that.”



“You take Pedro’s velocity, his ability to locate his pitches and his stuff, and you can see why he’s had the career he’s had. They’re all off the charts when he’s healthy and able to execute his pitches. It’s been a while since he’s been healthy.”

Monday’s start

Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus says that Pedro’s command was very good on Monday:

“If you look at the way he pitched, it’s like nothing he’s ever done. He mixed in five distinct pitches at varying speeds and locations that seemed to have the Reds off balance… Martinez didn’t pitch this way in the minors.”

Scott Hatteberg, who was a catcher with the Red Sox when Martinez was pitching there, seemed to agree with Carroll:

“The guy used to throw 90-plus, real sharp breaking ball, changeup, electric stuff. He doesn’t have that now, that would be something you couldn’t expect. As far as knowing how to pitch, he still knows how to pitch. His command. He changes speeds, works counts, knows hitters and kept the ball on the corners.”

Perhaps I’m reading too much into it, but read this quote from Pedro on the outing:

“Now, my next outing is probably gonna be more like a normal outing.”

Does that mean he’s going to switch from the way he approached the Reds? Again, I’m probably looking too deep into it (I’m also exhausted, which doesn’t help matters), but either way I don’t see a problem. He either continues to pitch how he did against the Reds, mixing pitches and changing speeds and whatnot, or he goes back to his old formula for success.

Regardless, he’s been around long enough that he knows how to pitch, how to game-plan. It’s just the implementation of the actual pitches themselves, if done poorly, that could hurt him. Let’s check out his official line from Monday and see if we can’t make out how he is doing in that regard:

5 IP / 76 pitches / 4 K / 3 BB / 38% GB

That’s definitely not terrible. The 4 strikeouts in 5 innings are nice to see, but keep in mind that two of those were from Aaron Harang. Striking out Hatteberg, though, is encouraging.

He walked more batters than you’d like him to, but Cincinnati is 6th in baseball in walks. It also could have something to do with this, from the New York Daily News:

“[Pedro] wasn’t thrilled with his ability to spot his curveball, which he attributed partially to the low humidity relative to Florida, where he had been rehabbing.”

That is not really what you’d like to hear. Still, I’d have to think that he’ll improve with every start. If he goes 5 innings with 4 strikeouts and 2 walks next game, I would call it a pretty big success.

Health

Obviously the most important thing for Pedro. After the game on Monday, he had this to say about it:

“Healthy. It was the biggest gift for me today – just the fact that I came out healthy, and I knew I could do a little bit more.”



“I was able to get in five innings and give my team a chance to win, and I came out healthy. I felt pretty fresh, to be honest.”

He also acknowledged, though, that “one game does not dictate how good you’re gonna be, or how healthy you’re gonna feel.” Paul Lo Duca shared the same sentiment:

“We don’t know for sure what he’s going to be now, how strong he’s going to be, how much he’ll be able to repeat his delivery. But if he’s Pedro again, watch out.”

One more potential red flag to take note of. Pedro underwent rotator cuff surgery just eleven months ago, and is back pitching in the majors already. From MLB.com:

“Nobody has ever done this,” Martinez said. His doctors — Mets physician David Altchek performed the surgery — told him they knew of no other pitcher who had pitched within a year of rotator cuff repair. “Nobody has been able to climb that big mountain,” Pedro said. “I’m happy to give it a try.”

While the quote was given as a testament to Pedro’s perseverance, toughness, and ability to overcome anything, it does make me a little worrisome. I am no doctor, but to think that Pedro came back that quickly from a surgery like that, I just have to wonder if he will be able to hold up.

This is not to take anything away from Pedro or what he has accomplished. I am a Mets fan and, personally, love the guy. He’s a fantastic pitcher and a fantastic competitor. We need to be realistic, though, for fantasy purposes, and keep personal feelings aside. We need to look from all angles.

Will Carroll called Pedro’s rehab “brilliant handling from day one by the Mets and their medical staff,” so that definitely alleviates some doubts. Still, it might be something to keep in the back of your mind.

Role

I had said at the end of the last article that I might keep Pedro benched in fantasy leagues for his first start. This is what I was getting at, from the mouth of Pedro himself:

“This is considered like a rehab game, and I was able to get five innings in, give my team a chance to win, make it a quality outing, and at the same time I came out healthy.”

Pedro isn’t ultra-concerned with winning in the present. He wants to win a World Series, and he wants to make sure that he is right by then. If that means experimenting a little bit more with some pitches now, I wouldn’t put it past him (nor would I be upset with him).

I’m sure more than a few people would be upset if Pedro overexerts himself and re-injures himself before October. Without exactly saying it, I’d have to think this quote means that Pedro feels the same way:

“If we are in first place, no, we’re not in trouble,” Martinez said. “If we fall out of first place, trouble is around the corner. As long as we are in first place and everybody else is chasing us, we’re doing fine.”

He also said this:

“From now on we’ll continue to see. Until I get four or five starts here in the big leagues I won’t be able to tell you if I’m off the hook or not.”

He’s going to pitch to get himself back to a comfortable level. He’s still treating these as semi-rehab starts. Even then, though, he’s still Pedro Martinez.

With all the press that is circulating about the inconsistency of the Mets and how they need to be careful or the Phillies will catch them, you might not realize something. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Mets have a 95% chance of winning the division and a 98% chance of making the playoffs. I believe that those numbers are without including Pedro in the equation. Really, I don’t see the Mets getting overtaken by the Phils.

If Willie Randolph realizes this even to a small extent, he won’t feel any need to push Pedro harder than necessary. Really, the Mets are playing for the post-season. What happens up until then, as long as they win a reasonable number of games, is of little importance in the grand scheme of things.

Final Outlook

While I don’t see Pedro racking up the innings, I do think his numbers will be pretty good. I think there is a very good chance of him posting a K/9 over 8.00, and as long as he can command his pitches, a BB/9 of 3.00 seems reasonable. That figure would actually be his highest since 1995, so he could easily exceed that expectation.

Also, when you factor in the Mets and their National League-leading defense, and the fact that other Mets starters have done very well with worse peripherals, Pedro looks like a pretty safe bet, performance-wise. Check out the other starters:

Tom Glavine – 1.34 K/BB – 4.06 ERA
John Maine – 2.29 K/BB – 3.57 ERA
Oliver Perez – 2.30 K/BB – 3.39 ERA
Orlando Hernandez – 2.18 K/BB – 3.32 ERA

If Pedro goes 8.00/3.00, that would leave his K/BB at 2.67, better than any of the other Mets starters.

Pedro Martinez needs to be owned in all leagues, and should be started from here until the end of the season. Even if he isn’t the Pedro Martinez of old, he is still darn good.

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