Pedro Martinez Rounding into Postseason Form for the Phillies

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Pedro Martinez Rounding into Postseason Form for the Phillies
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

For one night, you couldn't help yourself.

You couldn't help, be it whether you were at Citizens Bank Park last night or in front of the television, hearken back to about a decade ago when Pedro Martinez made things look so easy.

He may no longer be a Boston Red Sox, but he is a Philadelphia Phillie. And thus far, he has made General Manager Ruben Amaro Jr., one of the few executives with a contending team willing to take a chance on Martinez, look like a genius.

Martinez is now 5-0 with a 2.87 ERA. He has 34 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. He has allowed just 35 hits and has walked just six batters.

Let that sink in for a second.

At age 37, Martinez is doing things he did when he was 27.

It's always fun to take a look at the past, but what Martinez is doing in the present and what he may do in the near future is the vital headline right now.

Just for the sake of the past, let's note that Martinez went 118-36 with a 2.20 ERA with the Montreal Expos and Boston Red Sox from 1997-2003. Throw in some syringes, bulking triceps, and growing home run totals, and it's even more impressive what he has done.

Alas, we'll fast forward to the present. Amaro Jr. was willing to give Pedro an incentive-laden contract. It's paid off.

Last night was simply magical. In the nightcap of a day-night doubleheader, Martinez had an opportunity to eliminate one of his former teams, the New York Mets, from playoff contention.

The result? Brilliance, and nothing short of it. Martinez went eight innings, allowed six hits, walked just two, and struck out seven.

His fastball had life, albeit not the blazing velocity that his heater carried about five or six years ago. His change-up had a diving, tumbling motion on it that had hitters flailing. His curveball dropped off the table, proving unhittable for most of the night.

With two outs in the eighth inning, manager Charlie Manuel came out of the dugout and took a slow, yet steady, walk to the mound.

He asked Martinez if he had anything left in him. There was no way Pedro was about to hand the ball away.

So, eight shutout innings and 130 pitches later, Martinez added to his legend. At this stage, that's what he is.

What began with skepticism has turned into fanaticism.

Should the Phillies hold on to their position and make the playoffs, they'll have to start thinking about the 25 men that will comprise their roster.

While the Phillies have been somewhat short in terms of bench production this season, they have not lacked pitchers, in quality or quantity. One could make a case that the Phillies have about 14 or 15 adequate options for only 11 or 12 pitching spots.

A couple of weeks ago, leaning toward Martinez as a bullpen piece was the likely scenario. There was a certain sect that would have not thought he would even make the playoff roster.

But, as we have seen, things have changed.

Should the Phillies make the playoffs, it's likely things will kick off with Cole Hamels, followed by Cliff Lee. It's possible they could be swapped.

Who will be No. 3? Shockingly, it could be Martinez. Not only could it be, it should be.

Joe Blanton has had a very good year, as has J.A. Happ. Blanton has not pitched poorly lately, save for one start. Happ has been bothered by an injury to his oblique, but has been steady as they come all year.

Now, it's obvious what Manuel should do. Pencil in Pedro for that third starting slot in the playoffs. He is, after all, a legend.

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