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2010 Season in Review: Cristhian Martinez

Written by Joe Lucia on .

Cristhian Martinez is a guy that no one had really heard of coming into the 2010 season. He was the Marlins 2009 minor league pitcher of the year, despite only throwing 130 innings of ball for the organization. The Braves signed him off the scrap heap, and he was expected to be filler for Gwinnett for 2010. Well, as the season went on and injuries took their toll, he got the call to Atlanta, and took on a role of mop up reliever, pitching adequately enough for the Braves.

Let's concentrate on his efforts in Gwinnett first. Martinez threw 52 2/3 innings for the G-Braves, working mostly as a long reliever. He was pretty great in AAA, posting an 8.37 K rate and a fantastic 1.37 walk rate, giving him a K:BB ratio of 6.13. In case you don't know, that's really fantastic. His ERA for Gwinnett was 3.08, despite a horrifically low 63.5% strand rate. His FIP was 2.54, which helps take care of that ugly looking strand rate.

He got three stints with the Braves in 2010: June, August, and after a one week trip to Gwinnett before the minor league season ended, September. He was a good long man for the team, throwing more than an inning in in 8 of his 18 appearances with the team. Two games immediately jump out at me as highlights of Martinez's season. First, there was the game on June 20th where Kenshin Kawakami blew a 4 run lead in the span of 2 innings, and Martinez came in to stop the bleeding for three innings in a game the Braves would eventually come back and win. And secondly, there was the epic game on August 29th against the Marlins, where Derek Lowe got hammered in his final bad start of the year. Martinez allowed only 1 run over 4 innnings, and the Braves would win in the 9th after homers by Matt Diaz and Brian McCann. Yeah, THAT game.

The season peaked with that performance against the Marlins, though. Martinez would appear in 5 games after that game, and put up this combined line: 5 1/3 IP, 10 hits, 7 earned, 1 homer, 5 walks, and 7 strikeouts. To put that in perspective, before that final month of the season, he had only walked 1 batter ALL YEAR for the Braves. I'm not sure if that final month contributed to the fact that Martinez doesn't have a spot in the Braves bullpen for 2011 anymore, but what I am sure about is that if his role was expanded at all, it wouldn't have ended well. Last year, lefties hit .326 with an .890 OPS against him. Righties on the other hand, hit only .228 with a .630 OPS. So he'd be a...ROOGY? No room for someone like that in the pen.

What does 2011 hold for Martinez? I'd assume more of the same as 2010...a slot in Gwinnett's bullpen, with possible callups in the event of injuries. The only problem is that there are two guys in Gwinnett (Cory Gearrin and Stephen Marek) who should get called up over Martinez. It really wouldn't surprise me to see the Braves put him on waivers at the end of camp and see another team claim him. Its a numbers game right now, and people tend to get crunched when that happens. Martinez would be one of those guys.
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