Martinez should still have a strong chance of remaining in the rotation during an abbreviated 2020 season due to the likelihood the Cardinals regularly deploying six starting pitchers, Ben Fredrickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. Martinez was lauded for his offseason work ethic, as he came into spring camp in good shape and then compiled 13 strikeouts over 13 Grapefruit League innings before spring training was suspended. The veteran right-hander appeared set to claim at least the No. 5 spot in the rotation when play was paused, and even if Miles Mikolas (forearm) is ready to return whenever Opening Day finally unfolds, Martinez would appear set to benefit from the likelihood of a six-man Cardinals starting rotation.
Martinez had likely secured the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation by the time spring training was suspended, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports. The veteran right-hander had apparently made good on his offseason goal of reclaiming a rotation spot, remaining healthy throughout spring training and proving his previously ailing right shoulder was up to the rigors of starting. Martinez logged 13 innings overall across four Grapefruit League appearances, and even in his poorest outing of spring March 11 against the Mets, he was able to record six strikeouts over 3.2 innings.
Martinez is slated to throw at least 45 pitches in twice-a-week bullpen sessions while spring training is suspended, Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports. Manager Mike Shildt and his staff have developed the maintenance program to keep their projected starters ready to ramp up for a likely second wave of spring training, and, eventually, for the regular season. Martinez, who was fighting for a rotation spot when Grapefruit League play was paused Thursday, is expected to be subject to the protocol. The veteran right-hander went into the suspension of spring play on a somewhat sour note, as he allowed six earned runs over 3.2 innings versus the Mets on Wednesday, although he did record six strikeouts as well.
Martinez started a Grapefruit League game against the Mets on Wednesday and allowed six earned runs on six hits, a walk, a wild pitch and a hit batsman across 3.2 innings. He struck out six. The right-hander was truly all over the spectrum in what would turn out to be his final Grapefruit League start due to the cancellation of the remainder of spring training due to COVID-19 pandemic concerns. Martinez gave up a pair of extra-base hits overall, allowing a double to Robinson Cano and a two-run home run to J.D. Davis, who he also plunked during the outing. While the wild performance put somewhat of a damper on what has otherwise been a strong spring for Martinez, the six strikeouts were certainly a positive. Given his relatively solid form throughout Grapefruit League play, Martinez would seem to have a strong shot at a spot in the Opening Day rotation; however, with the first game of the season now delayed by at least two weeks past its original March 26 date, it's also possible veteran Miles Mikolas (forearm) has enough time to get healthy and reclaim one of the two spots currently considered as available.
Martinez started a Grapefruit League win over the Nationals and fired three scoreless innings, during which he allowed no hits and three walks while recording four strikeouts. The hard-throwing right-hander continued to make an airtight case for a spot in the starting rotation, mostly breezing through a Nationals lineup loaded with regulars on 51 pitches. Anne Rogers of MLB.com reports Martinez topped out at 94 mph on his fastball but mostly hovered in the range of 90 mph while concentrating on his fastball command. Martinez's velocity certainly speaks to the health of his previously troublesome shoulder, a sentiment the veteran echoed after the game. "Right now I feel really good," Martinez said. "Last year I felt frustration because of [shoulder weakness], but right now I feel really comfortable, I feel ready. I feel strong."
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