Ethan Martin Seems Destined for the Bullpen

On August 2, Ethan Martin made his Major League debut starting against the Atlanta Braves. He featured a mid-90′s fastball, a looping curve, and a mid-80′s slider. He pitched well until a five-run fifth inning ended his night.

Over his first five starts, Martin has a 6.33 ERA but it doesn’t speak to how well he has pitched. He has averaged better than a strikeout per inning. The biggest culprits have been a 13 percent walk rate and six home runs allowed over 21 and one-third innings.

Clearly, Martin has the stuff to succeed at the Major League level, but that success may end up coming as a reliever rather than as a starter.

Eric Longenhagen suggested just that in his scouting report and it is backed up by looking at his velocity chart via Brooks Baseball:

Martin’s velocity immediately begins declining in his second inning of work and loses as much as 2 MPH by the third inning. Additionally, his strikeout rate dips in the fourth through sixth innings compared to the first through third innings:

Innings PA K% BB%
1-3 57 32.0% 7.0%
4-6 41 12.0% 17.0%

Of course, 40-60 PA does not constitute much of a sample, but we are simply identifying trends we already knew existed.

Believe it or not, the Phillies will be fine with a 2014 bullpen that includes Jonathan Papelbon, a presumably healthy Mike Adams, Antonio Bastardo, Justin De Fratus, Jake Diekman, and Martin. The starting rotation has enough question marks as it is pertaining to the future of Roy Halladay and the value of retaining one or both of Kyle Kendrick and John Lannan.

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10 comments

  1. Pencilfish

    August 26, 2013 10:04 AM

    Agreed, I think Martin is a better fit for the BP, but who knows if Bastardo can perform well without PED’s? Mike Adams may be ineffective post-surgery. De Fratus and Diekman have too little track-record (reminds me of the enthusiasm about Aumont about 12 months ago). The BP will need external help.

  2. Eric Longenhagen

    August 26, 2013 10:24 AM

    Aumont looked friggin awesome at this time last year. Looks terrible this year. Strike throwing is worse than ever AND the stuff has gone backwards. Bad news.

  3. joecatz

    August 26, 2013 11:08 AM

    it really boggles my mind that they haven’t made this transition yet. In all my years of following this team, I really can’t remember a more no brainer transition that Martin to the pen, both from a short and long term perspective for the player and the team.

  4. Eric Longenhagen

    August 26, 2013 11:23 AM

    Well, when they first got Aumont from the Mariners the M’s had already penned him and they tried him in the rotation again. That was….interesting to watch.

  5. Scott G

    August 26, 2013 11:43 AM

    I was curious how this velocity drop compared to someone like Cole Hamels (Cole drops about 1 mph from 1st inning to 6th, but not nearly as much as Martin).

    I then looked for Shelby Miller since he’s young like Martin. Miller sits at 94 for all 9 innings. That’s pretty crazy to me… Actually, all of his pitches are ridiculously consistent throughout.

    Harvey also sits in between 96 and 97 the entire game.

  6. Pencilfish

    August 26, 2013 12:14 PM

    Eric,

    Aumont looks like a complete mess right now. When he was demoted earlier this year, he was criticized as unteachable. Back in the minors, his performance has been awful. He’s only 24, but I wonder how much longer we can hold on to him if he doesn’t make significant progress. With the expected coaching turn-over this off-season (ie, Dubee’s contract expires this year), I hope Aumont can find someone who can help him in ST and hopefully in the majors next season. That could be his last chance in Philly.

  7. Eric Longenhagen

    August 26, 2013 12:39 PM

    Yeah, fish. He’s really really terrible right now. And I do’nt think you’re wrong to utter the phrase, “I wonder how much longer we can hold onto him,” because from afar, it really does look that bad. When I was in Scranton to see Adam Morgan the other week, he came in and struggled to throw strikes again. I was sitting down the first base side at this point to look at swings and when he finally got out of the inning he slumped into the dugout just beneath me and I just heard a pounding where the bat rack and helmets are. It’s been rough for him, too.

  8. Phillie697

    August 26, 2013 01:03 PM

    What is it with the Phillies keeping churning out pitchers more suited for the bullpen, even the ones that we traded away? I think I commented that Trevor May looks like he’s destined to be BP’ed not too long ago. Even Worley looks awful now.

    I mean, when the BEST starting pitcher your farm has produced in the last 5 years is… Kyle Kendrick, something is seriously wrong.

  9. amarosucks

    August 26, 2013 04:14 PM

    kendrick wasn’t even ‘last 5 years’, he was before that. the best was either happ or worley, which is pathetic.

    though I guess to be fair we’d probably have to include cosart in the mix, who is off to a pretty good start to his career.

  10. Spencer Bingol

    August 26, 2013 07:23 PM

    Agreed that a Papelbon/Adams/Bastardo/Veteran Free Agent/Martin/De fratus/Diekman bullpen looks great – but top of the line talent isn’t our problem with the bullpen- its when various circumstances (Adams, Bastardo) prevent players from being on the field, the guys we bring up are awful. Not having depth is just as bad as not having talent – and we need to focus on spots 8-12 on the 40 man. I want to see us make a few minor league swaps for AAA relievers this summer, with some serious potential and a solid track record.

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