Martinez secured his third save of the season in Monday's win over the Pirates. He went one inning and allowed a run on two hits while striking out two. The save was the first for Martinez since he was officially named the Cardinals' closer after Sunday's win by manager Mike Shildt. Martinez did allow a run, but it was only the second he's given up since moving to the bullpen. While his long-term outlook remains as a starting pitcher, Martinez will hope to remain the closer for the rest of the season with Bud Norris and Jordan Hicks looming if he falters.
Martinez, who secured his second save Sunday against the Tigers, has officially been designated as the team's closer by manager Mike Shildt, Tyler Fenwick of MLB.com reports. The news from Shildt came postgame Sunday, as the manager confirmed he'd actually informed Martinez of the news prior to the contest. The right-hander essentially won a near week-long audition for the closer's job that also included hard-throwing rookie Jordan Hicks. Martinez was able to impress by firing four scoreless innings over a seven-day period, leading Shildt to state that "we feel good about what Carlos can bring" to the ninth-inning role. Meanwhile, former closer Bud Norris is expected to see his bullpen slotting "reshuffled" so that he can be placed in less high-leverage scenarios for the time being, according to Shildt.
Martinez tossed a perfect ninth inning Sunday against the Tigers, nailing down his second save of the season. Martinez has thrived out of his new role in the bullpen, tossing a scoreless outing in seven of his first eight relief appearances. He was initially expected to be used as a multi-inning reliever, although he's been called upon in some high-leverage spots of late with Bud Norris still unavailable (coach's decision). Expect Martinez and Jordan Hicks to be deployed in save opportunities until Norris regains the confidence of his manager -- though the two of them might wrestle closing duties away if they keep rolling.
Martinez picked up his first save of the season Wednesday against the Nationals, allowing two hits while striking out four across two scoreless innings. With closer Bud Norris (coach's decision) and Jordan Hicks (rest) both unavailable, Martinez was called upon to pitch the final two innings of Wednesday's 7-6 win. He allowed a single in each inning but otherwise kept the Nationals at bay to secure his first save since 2014. While the Cardinals would likely prefer to use Martinez in a multi-inning role, there's a chance he could see some save chances down the stretch if manager Mike Shildt opts to mix and match in the ninth inning.
Martinez has allowed just one hit and two walks while recording three strikeouts across four scoreless innings in three appearances since being activated from the disabled list Aug. 21. The right-hander has settled into a bullpen role nicely thus far, and he's been much more efficient on a per-pitch basis compared to his days as a starter. Martinez has thrown just 51 pitches while recording 12 outs, and he hasn't walked a batter in either of his last pair of outings. The 26-year-old is slated to remain in a relief role for the duration of the regular season, with his flexibility in terms of workload making him an especially valuable asset for manager Mike Shildt.