Archive for the ‘Pedro Martinez’ Category

Pedro Martinez Circa 2000

May 7, 2009
August 29th, 8 Rays ejected, 2 skirmishes, 4 hit batters.

This will be the last in the Pedro series for now. I have to pack and go home tomorrow after exams, and then, we’re headed to Cincinnati for a Reds-Cardinals game. Should be fun, but that means that I can’t get up anything really tomorrow. Just in case you were wondering, 2002 and 2003 were also outstanding seasons (I don’t include 2001 because he only pitched in 18 games, but nonetheless, he was outstanding then as well) for Pedro. But 2000 was a special season, there are some debates as to whether 1999 or 2000 were the better season, but even considering he won 5 fewer games, 2000 has to be Pedro’s masterpiece.

Following up his fantastic 1999 season, Pedro came back and was both dominating and consistent. Over the course of the next 6 months, he would have two starts in which he gave up more than 3 runs, not just earned runs. It all began with a jolt on Opening Day. Facing the Seattle Mariners, whom he owned the previous season, Pedro decided to be efficient and deadly. He went 7 innings giving up 2 hits and 2 walks while striking out 11 in 108 pitches. Derek Lowe came up with a two-inning save, and Pedro was off and running. Anaheim was his next victim as he struck out 12 in 7.1 IP while giving up one run, which Lowe (who went 1.2 IP this time) actually gave up. Three more solid 7 inning starts, and Pedro was 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA.

May was a bit of a hard-luck month, but it was also Pedro’s finest. It began on a sour note on May 6th with a loss against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, but the loss wasn’t Pedro’s fault. He gunned down 17 hitters making Greg Vaughan, Kevin Stocker, and Vinny Castilla cry for their mothers, but a Vaughan single in the 8th gave the Devil Rays the only run they needed as Steve Trachsel outmatched Martinez, going 9 for the 1-0 shutout. Martinez faced off against Sidney Ponson the next game, but the Orioles had no chance as Pedro struck out 15 more and gave up only two hits. The Red Sox gave Pedro 9 to work with and he had his 6-1 record. On May 23rd, Toronto gave Pedro another tough loss. He wasn’t as sharp giving up 7 hits and 3 walks for 3 runs, but the Red Sox only mustered 2 off a young Chris Carpenter. But by the end of May, Pedro was a cool 8-2 with a 1.05 ERA after his 0.86 ERA month.

June was a bit more frustrating. The Indians saw a tough Pedro as Martinez threw 8 1-hit innings and struck out 10, but the Yankees gave the Red Sox two tough losses in his following starts as the offense sputtered scoring only 1 run total. Pedro’s worst start of the season followed as he matched up again with the Blue Jays. This time, the Blue Jays rapped 5 runs off Martinez as Shannon Stewart, Brad Fullmer, and Tony Bautista hit home runs. Pedro escaped the loss as his offense came back to get five, but the Red Sox ultimately lost the game. Pedro was 9-3, but his ERA had climbed to 1.44 (poor guy).

Pedro got mad again in July. After not pitching in the All-Star Game due to an injury, he came back strong. He would only allow 4 runs the entre month (4 starts) and struck out at least 10 in each start. July 23rd saw the White Sox make a futile attempt. Martinez went off, striking out 15 in a complete-game 6-hit shutout. The offense only gave him one, but he didn’t need anymore, dispatching the 61-36 White Sox. Add three more wins and a 1.06 ERA for the month, and Pedro was on his way to another Cy Young Award.

August was a long month as he had to go out for six starts. He won 3 more, but his only loss was another toughy. He went 8 innings against the Angels, but Ramon Ortiz outdueled him, going 9 and only giving up 2 to Martinez’s 3. Again, the offense let him down, but they covered for him later in the month. Facing the Royals, Martinez got off to a rough start. The Royals grabbed four singles and two doubles for five runs, but after that, they got one more run on a Mike Sweeney homer. The Red Sox fought back and won the game in the 10th. Surviving his toughest month, Martinez was 15-4 with a 1.68 ERA.

In three of his final five starts, Pedro gave up one run or fewer, but he gave up three each in two others. The odd thing is that Pedro only gave up 4 hits in each of those starts and only walked 3 total. Five of those came on homers (a three-run shot for Scott Brosius and a two-run shot for David Segui.

By the end of it, Pedro had his 3rd Cy Young and 2nd unanimous. And why not? He was 18-6, but that wasn’t the impressive part. He grabbed a nifty 1.74 ERA which was the best since 1978 when Ron Guidry also had a 1.74 ERA. His 8.88 K/BB ratio was the best of his career and just remarkable anyway. Oh, and he had a 0.737 WHIP. That’s amazing. In fact, it broke a major-league record held by Walter Johnson who had a 0.780 WHIP in his amazing 1913 season. What about the slash stats against him? A .167/.213/.259 line ain’t bad. Ain’t bad at all. The batting average and on-base percentage set major-league records as well. He decreased his walks to 1.3 BB/9, but his strikeouts did go down to 11.8 K/9. Just awful. 1999 was impressive, but 2000 was a notch above.

But let’s take a look at FanGraphs. Pedro’s 1999 FIP was actually much, much better than his 2000 season. He had a startling 1.39 FIP in 1999 with only a 2.17 FIP (I continually find it ridiculous how good he was) in 2000. What accounts for the difference? Well, his BABIP shrunk from .343 (how the hell did he pitch that well with a .343 BABIP?) to .253. He stranded an amazing 86.8% of baserunners. Unfortunately, there are no win values for 1999 and 2000, but it seems that Pedro was actually a better pitcher in 1999, and he took advantage of some really good luck in 2000 while still being one heckuva pitcher. Maybe he was better in 1999. What do you think?

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Pedro Martinez Circa 1999

May 6, 2009
The 1999 All-Star Game was just one of many highlights to this season.

After his Cy Young award-winning 1997 season, the Montreal Expos could see the writing on the wall. Pedro had just won a Cy Young Award, he was 26 years old, and he had one more year before he hit the free-agent market. The chances of them re-signing him were slim, and they decided to get something for him while his value was high. In November of 1997, the Expos traded him to the Boston Red Sox for Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr., and it wasn’t long after that the Red Sox signed Martinez to a 6-year, $75 million contract, the largest ever for a pitcher. Martinez responded with a brilliant season, going 19-7 with a 2.89 ERA, but because I’m only focusing on his “historic” seasons, this one doesn’t quite cut it, though it was spectacular. The only slight concern was that his strikeouts had dipped by a whole two per inning, but because it was still 9.7 and it was his first season in the majors, no one was really concerned.

Indeed, they shouldn’t have been. April started Pedro off well for the season. His innings pitched per game went from 6 to 7 (for 2 games) to 7.2 to, finally, a whole 9 as it appeared that Pedro was growing stronger. Even better, the strikeouts returned and consistently. After striking out 9 in his first 2 appearances, he went on to strikeout 10 in each of his last three starts, and for the whole month, he only walked 7. By the end of April, he had a shiny 4-1 record along with a spiffy 2.21 ERA.

May was even more impressive. Feeding off his strong start, Pedro rattled off six more wins in six starts in the month. In his first four starts, he was absolutely dominating. The first start of the month saw him go 7 innings while striking out 13 batters and giving up one run, but his best was yet to come. On May 7, the Anaheim Angels were utterly lost, striking out 15 times. Garrett Anderson notched a hat trick, and catcher Matt Walbeck was the only one to survive Pedro’s wrath. 6 harmless hits led nowhere as Pedro went 8 strong. During his next start, he was almost as domineering. Pedro sent the Mariners down with another 15 K’s in eight innings with Ken Griffey Jr. and Jay Buhner receiving some rough treatment. Other than single runs in the 5th and 6th (a David Bell home run of all things), Pedro wasn’t very nice to the Mariners. Oddly thinking of today, Tim Wakefield and Derek Lowe finished those two games, respectively. Three more decent starts and Pedro was 10-1 with a 2.01 ERA.

June, like April, was solid, but it had an amazing start. In an interleague game, the Atlanta Braves were taken to the woodshed. Other than a Ryan Klesko homer, the Dominican righty stormed through Atlanta like Sherman, burning down the Braves. 16 hitters went down after three strikes including every batter and Brian Jordan (4 times for the golden sombrero) especially. Tom Glavine went to 3-7 while Pedro won his 11th in a complete-game victory. His next start was a little rough, giving up 4 earned and taking his second loss of the season. But three more starts saw three more victories, and at the end of June, he was 14-2.

July was a bit of a mixed bag for Pedro. On one hand, he had his worst start of the season, going 3.2 IP while giving up 9 runs (7 earned), and he had to go on the disabled list with a sore right shoulder on the 25th. Not to condemn his usage, but 8 of starts saw him throw 120+ by this point. Even with that, Pedro had a couple nice starts to begin the month, but his big moment came in the All-Star Game. At 15-3 with a 2.10 ERA, he was the All-Star Game starter in his own park as the game was held at Fenway. Pedro stepped up in the spotlight. Barry Larkin, Larry Walker, and Sammy Sosa realized what 184 others had before them — Pedro was good. Mark McGwire found out quickly in the second, and after Matt Williams reached on an error, Jeff Bagwell struck out swinging and Matt Williams saved Mike Piazza by being thrown out trying to steal. Martinez won the MVP Award easily.

Coming back in August, the Red Sox were gentle, easing Pedro back in. He only threw five innings in his first two starts, and his next appearance, in relief, would go 4 innings. But the beast reawoke on August 19th. Facing Tim Hudson and the Oakland A’s, Pedro struck out 11, beginning an epic streak that saw him strikeout at least 10 hitters in 10 consecutive starts. Pedro would lose the game and move to 17-4, but he would turn into Superman down the stretch as the Red Sox desperately tried to catch the Yankees. At 6.5 back, they wouldn’t get closer than 3, but Martinez made it fun. The Twins became his next victims as he struck out 15 with Terry Steinbach wishing he hadn’t been born (4 K’s). By the end of August, he was now 19-4 with a 2.36 ERA.

September saw every team hoping and praying they didn’t have to face Pedro. Seattle wished Pedro would just go away as they went down 15 times again, and Jay Buhner found a new mortal enemy as he struck out 4 times this time. 2 hits, 3 walks, and a Rod Beck ninth later, and Pedro had win 20. The most gratifying of the month, year, and maybe career was the next start against the Yankees. On September 10th, Pedro went berserk. He struck out 17 hitters, the most against the Yankees, and the only hit he gave up was a Chili Davis home run. No one escaped, and only three starters escaped with less than 2 K’s — Paul O’Neill, Chuck Knoblauch, and Tino Martinez. 14, 12, and 12 strikeouts later, Pedro’s regular season came to an end with a relief appearance on October 2nd, probably just moving him into the right spot for the playoffs.

For the regular season, Pedro Martinez won the Triple Crown for pitchers by going 23-4 with a 2.07 ERA and 313 strikeouts (a staggering 13.2 K/9 and 8.46 K/BB) in 213.1 IP. His 243 ERA+ was his second-best of his career (check back tomorrow for the best), and his WHIP was 0.923. After narrowly missing his second Cy Young the season before, he won it unanimously in 1999. However, there was some controversy over the MVP race. Ivan Rodriguez would take home the prize, but after a dominating season, a New York and Minnesota writer left him off the ballot entirely, leaving him 13 points shy of Pudge.

As for the playoffs, it was an interesting few weeks. After going 4 innings against the Indians in Game 1 of the ALCS, he had to leave with a strained back, but in Game 5 when no one thought he could, he pitched 6 no-hit innings to send the Indians away after the starting pitchers were entirely ineffective and left with a 8-8 tie. But the Red Sox ran into a juggernaut in the ALCS. The Yankees only lost one game the entire postseason, and guess who beat them. Yep, it was Pedro going toe-to-toe with Roger Clemens in Game 3. But the Yankees took the series two games later, ending a magical season for Pedro Martinez.

Pedro Martinez Circa 1997

May 4, 2009
Small, thin, and built to win.

While still considering why Pedro Martinez doesn’t have a job when lots of teams need pitching, I figured I would bring up a couple of Pedro’s best seasons this week. Today, we start with a dominating 1997 that put him on the map.

Coming into his fifth season in a major-league uniform, Pedro Martinez was a blossoming youngster. He had been a reliever for the Dodgers because Tommy Lasorda believed that Pedro was too small to last as a starting pitcher. Needing a second baseman for the 1994 season, the Dodgers traded Pedro for Delino DeShields.

Pedro was good for the first three seasons. He was a combined 38-25, and he had posted ERA’s in the mid-3’s. Interestingly enough, he was better than that with FIP’s in the lower 3’s for a couple of those seasons. Unlike most young pitchers, Pedro even had control, consistently hitting around 3 in his BB/9. On June 3, 1995, he pitched nine perfect innings, but Joey Hamilton matched him by only giving up three hits. In the tenth, he gave up a double and was removed from the game. But in 1997, he took his game to a whole other level.

April went well for Pedro. He won 3 games and had an ERA of 0.44. Excellent in all three games, he struck out 23 and walked 7, but his best was yet to come. Over the next five games, he obliterated his competition on the way to an 8-0 record to start the season. Pedro threw 3 complete games (1 shutout), and the other two games saw him pitch 7 innings for 41 innings over that span. He gave up 7 earned runs to raise his ERA to 1.17 while he struck out an amazing 45 and walking only 4.

In his last start of May, things didn’t go as planned. He cruised through the first three innings, but the fourth saw Pedro lose himself and his fastball. After the leadoff hitter reached on an error, Pedro got a flyout to right field. Starting his control problems, he walked the next man before striking out the one after. Over the next five batters, he threw 15 pitches and only 3 were strikes. When he threw a strike, they hit it to the tune of 3 hits, 2 walks, and 5 runs. With two outs, none of them were earned, but the walks really killed him. Carlos Baerga added a two-run shot the next inning to finish the Dominican’s evening.

Pedro shrugged off the start in June, but he would only go 2-2 in the month while throwing 5 complete games (1 more shutout). His offense was anemic that month. The scores of his starts were 2-1 (L), 5-4 (in the only game in which he didn’t go at least 8 at 6.2 IP), 1-0 (W), 2-1 (L), 2-1, and 2-1 (W). For the season, the Expos were 9th of 14 teams, but they were otherwise solid for the rest of the month, going 17-11.

Pedro scuffled a bit more in July, with his second-highest ERA of 2.61 (I like how you can scuffle with a 2.61 ERA). July 5th saw him walk an uncharacteristic 6 batters and give up four runs in a loss to the Braves and Tom Glavine. On July 24th, the Astros only got 5 hits, but they made them count. Luis Gonzalez and Chuck Carr had home runs, and they took advantage of a rough 4th to take the game 10-5.

Probably angry from that start, Martinez got down to business. The following start on July 29th saw him give up 5 hits while striking out 13 and walking 1 in a complete game shutout against the Rockies. Two more complete-game victories brought his record to 14-5, and he was looking to be a real Cy Young favorite. Over his next four starts to end August, he never gave up more than 2 earned runs in a start on his way to a 4-1, 1.09 ERA month. By the end of August, he was 16-6, but the wheels fell off a little in the final month, his worst.

Leading up to September, Pedro had already thrown 204.1 innings and was a lock to bypass his 216 from the previous season, but because he didn’t start until April 15th, he was working a bit harder. In September, he would throw at least 7 innings in each start, but he would give up 5 and 4 runs in two separate starts to bring his ERA to 1.91. Only after the July 24th game did his ERA get so close to 2, and it was an identical 1.91. With two starts left, he only surrendered 3 runs in 15 innings to end the season with a 1.90 ERA and a 17-8 record.

It’s hard to fathom how good Pedro was that season, and it’s even harder to fathom that his 219 ERA+ is only his third best. Pedro would go on to win the 1997 Cy Young Award by garnering 25 of 28 first-place over Greg Maddux, who had a great 1997 campaign of 19 wins and a 2.20 ERA. But no one could match Pedro’s 305 strikeouts except for Curt Schilling (319) or his ERA or near his 13 complete games (Schilling was next with 7). In only two months did he have an ERA north of 2 and never did he have one north of 4. He even had one south of 1 and one that almost did the same. Better yet, with a 0.932 WHIP, he didn’t even allow a baserunner an inning. Even with that, he only finished 16th in the MVP voting. A 78-84 record can do that to you. However, scarily enough, we hadn’t seen the best from the 25-year old.