Russell Martin had a brutal start to the season, hitting .150 over 60 at-bats in April. He was even worse in the final month, posting a .148 average in 81 at-bats. However, in the four months sandwiched between, Martin hit .295 with 16 home runs and 67 RBI. Overall, the catcher tallied similar numbers to what he had the previous year, although Martin's power dipped a bit in 2016. Most alarming about the veteran's recent campaign is the career-high 27.7 percent strikeout rate -- up from 20.9 percent in 2015 and up more than 10 percentage points from his career 17.4 percent mark. This could be a sign that Martin's bat speed is declining. Father Time is certainly chasing down Martin, but there doesn't appear to be another catcher in the organization ready to challenge him for the spot. He's only in the third year of a five-year, $82 million contract, putting him in position for another busy year at age-34 in 2017.
Martin (finger) is in the lineup Thursday against the Rangers, Shi Davidi of SportsNet reports. Martin received stitches in his finger following Monday's game, but will be back in action for Game 1 of the ALDS. Martin, who finished the regular season with a .231/.335/.398 line, went 0-for-4 Monday night.
Martin went 0-for-3 with two walks, an RBI and scored a run in Monday's win over the Yankees. Aside from racking up a few stats Monday, Martin was also an active participant in a pair of bench-clearing skirmishes. More important to fantasy owners, the struggling catcher notched his first RBI and first run since Sept. 20. Although Martin is hitting just .164 this month, he's been able to stay afloat due to good plate discipline. The veteran owns a decent .313 OBP thanks in part to the 15 walks he's drawn in September.
Martin is out of the lineup for Friday's game against the Angels. With knuckleballer R.A. Dickey taking the hill Friday, Josh Thole will take over behind the dish in place of Martin. Although he's been able to hit for some power, Martin has struggled in September, hitting just .147 with a .680 OPS and 16 strikeouts. He figures to take back over behind the plate Saturday.
Martin went 1-for-3 with a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly against the Angels on Thursday. He was a big part of what the Jays were able to do on offense, keeping up a hot stretch in which Russell has homered 11 times to go with a .280 average over 26 games. That's particularly outstanding in light of his awful .227 average with eight homers over his first 95 games this year. The 33-year-old backstop doesn't get many days off, making him a consistent and highly welcome lineup presence for fantasy owners down the stretch.
Martin hit his 18th homer of the season Tuesday, a two-run blast in a 6-2 loss against the Rays. Martin hit fourth for the Blue Jays on Tuesday, a demonstration of the faith Toronto has in their veteran catcher's bat. The blast gave Martin his 66th and 67th RBI of the season, best among AL catchers except for the Rangers' Johnathan Lucroy, who spent half the year in the NL. Martin also leads AL catchers in strikeouts, however, whiffing 133 times in 399 at-bats.