Worried About Martinez? McLaughlin’s Holding His Judgement Until Next Start

Take a look at Carlos Martinez’s numbers through two starts back from the disabled list, and you won’t find stats belonging to a staff ace. C-Mart’s control is off, he looks uncomfortable, and he’s walked 12 through eight innings.

This may or may not flighten you depending on your Panic-Meter status, but it’s worth noting the Cardinals righty is not yet entirely himself since his June 6 return. Diminished velocity to go along with weakened control of his fastball.

It’s also worth noting that while Martinez was not his whole self in Sunday’s 3.2 inning, seven walk, five earned-run performance, plate umpire Gerry Davis’s strikezone was also somewhat askew. This makes it a little harder to gauge Martinez’s performance.

“I thought the strike-zone was erratic [Sunday] and that’s putting it mildly and kindly,” Dan McLaughlin said in his Monday spot with ‘The Bernie Miklasz Show.’

“I thought it was terrible, actually, which didn’t help. So when you look at how the game played out, if he gets through a couple more innings…let’s say five or six innings, the narrative changes quickly,” he added.

“I know he walked seven. I know he’s walked a ton in the first two games coming back. I get that, but I did see some signs of some things that I thought, ‘Wow.’ This pitch was back. That fastball was back. The movement on his sinker is there. So I think you reserve judgement until the next time he’s out.”

Fair enough when you consider all factors at hand, but should Martinez have even been throwing his MLB return’s second start on Sunday? Is the club hurrying some of these fellas back a bit too soon? Danny Mac says it’s a honest point.

“‘Well, Dan, you’re saying it’s taking three times back in the Major League. Maybe you should add another rehab [start,] and I get it,” he said. “Maybe I need to look at it that way too, but I still reserve judgement, especially after yesterday’s game.”

Jordan Hicks: Will his arm eventually fall off?

The subheadline here is (mostly) meant to be silly, but the 21-year-old Hicks’s recent workload is tough to stomach given the amount of pitcher injuries the Cards have dealt with. Hicks tossed three scoreless innings in three consecutive days to end last week, which is great stat-wise, but concerning considering he throws just a tick under 200 MPH.

“I don’t think it’s a good thing, certainly, when you go three days in a row with him,” McLaughlin said. “He’s a special arm. He’s a young man that’s doing things that not many people have done. I just think you have to treat him extra, extra cautiously. I just think you’ve got to treat him with kid gloves.

“I understand why Mike [Matheny] went with that scenario over the weekend, but I don’t think it’s a formula for success from here on out. I think you’ve got to pick and choose your spots and be very cautious with that.”

The Hicks Conundrum shines light on the fact the Cardinals bullpen needs more than two guys to record outs. He, along with Bud Norris have been go-to guys for Matheny, but it’s a trend not likely to last successfully should nothing change.

“Who’s out there right now that you can trust and can get people out outside of Hicks, and Norris, and maybe Austin Gomber, who’s done okay since he’s come up?” Danny Mac asked. “They’ve got to find somebody that can step up and bridge the gap because you cannot have Hicks going the seventh and eighth, or Norris going the eighth and ninth every other time. It just doesn’t work that way.”

You can hear McLaughlin’s full weekly segments below. Stay tuned to 101 ESPN and for plenty of Cardinals talk as team gets set for the Padres this week.

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