April 18, 2021

Carlos Martínez Epitomizes Contextual Value, and Other Business School Buzzwords (FanGraphs)


In recent years, moving a middling starter to relief and discovering a stud has become something of a baseball trope. Spare Andrew Miller or Drew Pomeranz on your hands? Chuck them in the bullpen and they’ll improve. Wade Davis doesn’t thrill you as a starter? Let him relieve and he’ll add velo and win you a World Series.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we should simply make every starter a reliever. The gains you would get from making Max Scherzer a reliever (An even higher strikeout rate! Even more velo! Even more grunts!) don’t come close to the losses in innings pitched. When you have a great pitcher, it’s key to give them as much playing time as possible, even at the cost of efficiency. Reliever Scherzer might be untouchable, but then you get 60 innings of him and 150 innings of starts from Joe Triple-A.

This logic brings us, unerringly, to Carlos Martínez. Martínez is an excellent test case for the boundaries of starter-to-reliever conversions. As a reliever, he’s been spectacular — he had a 3.17 ERA, 2.86 FIP, and sparkling strikeout and walk numbers out of the bullpen in 2019, and was similarly good there in 2018. At the same time, he’s an…

Read “Carlos Martínez Epitomizes Contextual Value, and Other Business School Buzzwords” at FanGraphs