St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Carlos Martinez is working his way back from a shoulder injury he suffered back in September.
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Martinez Looking Good While Throwing Live BP
Friday, Mar. 4
Martinez threw a live batting practice on Friday, which was the first time he pitched to batters since his injury, per Benjamin Hochman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Benjamin Hochman @hochman
The leg-kick is back in action - Carlos Martinez pitched to batters for first time since Sept injury #STLCards https://t.co/hRWALvioJQ2016-3-4 14:39:12
His performance wowed Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright, who spoke with Rick Hummel of the Dispatch after Martinez pitched:
It was probably the best I’ve ever seen anyone throw off the mound from behind (the plate). I’m serious. I’ve never seen any live BP like that before. He was just unbelievable. It was everything you wanted. Wherever he wanted it. It was the most firm I’ve ever seen anybody throw. It was amazing. It really was. He doesn’t need to do anything different.
That's high praise coming from a pitcher that won at least 19 games four times from 2009 to 2014.
Cardinals catcher Brayan Pena echoed Wainwright's sentiments: "He was impressive. This is a guy who has that special talent it only takes time to explode. He’s got talent that I haven’t seen in a while. Hopefully, this year will be the year where the sky is going to be the limit."
Martinez experienced his first year as a starter in 2015 after spending his first two major league seasons coming out of the bullpen. He immediately showed promise, going 14-7 with 184 strikeouts in 179.2 innings pitched and was elected to his first All-Star Game.
He exhibited a fastball that could reach as high as 99 miles per hour, but it was his breaking pitches that did the most damage, as shown here:
If Martinez is ready to go by Opening Day, it will be a huge boost for the Cardinals rotation. Wainwright went down with an Achilles injury in April 2015 and was forced to miss the entire season, while No. 2 starter Lance Lynn will miss the 2016 season due toTommy John surgery.
That means Martinez will have to help carry the Cardinals staff in a difficult National League Central division that includes the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates, two teams that will be in the postseason hunt this season.
In order to keep up with them in the division, the Cardinals will need to stifle some of their big bats, such as Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen and Chicago's Anthony Rizzo, and some of that responsibility will be on Martinez's shoulders this year.
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com.