Sunday, July 19, 2009

J.D. Martin Gets his Shot

Chico Harlan says J.D. Martin will get the start tomorrow in place of mercifully injured Scott Olsen.

A little pat on the back for myself for writing this back in December the day after Martin was signed:
He's a former #1 pick of the Indians who had Tommy John surgery in 2005. He finally had a fully healthy season in 2008 and posted a 2.49 ERA in 79.2 IP in AA and a 1.80 ERA in 10 IP at AAA. Even prettier were his 4:1 strikeout to walk ratios.

After being rumored as a potential rule 5 pick, he signed as a free agent with the Nationals because, he said, we give him the best chance to make it to the bigs. His best pitches are a curve and a cutter. He also throws a sinker and a four-seamer. His fastball sits in the 89-90 range. He'll be 26 this season and should be considered a dark horse candidate for the rotation or bullpen.

If you want to read more about him, check out the excellent Indians Prospect Insider blog.

FJB bottom-line: two thumbs up.
That K:BB ratio this season has improved to a fabulous 6.30. He's got a 2.66 ERA, which translates to a major-league equivalent of 3.42.

He's been wicked lucky on his home runs per flyball rate, which at 3.5% is about one-third what it will ultimately regress to. And his BABIP against sits at .277, which is about 30 points below what he should expect over time. On the other hand, he's stranded only 66% of runners, which is about 10-15 points lowe than it should be.

Add up all that good and bad luck, and he deserves an ERA around 3.40 at Syracuse, according to tRA*. That would translate to about 4.50 in the big leagues. That's league-average, and worth consideration for a spot in the rotation regardless of injuries.

And although you might not have heard of him, this is not a totally unpredicted development. PECOTA, historically the most accurate projection system for pitchers, pegged him at 3.90 in 30 innings this year.

Of course all this statistical projection doesn't mean squat if he can't make it happen when facing actual major league hitters. And there are plenty of guys out there who can get out AAA hitters but lack the raw stuff to do it at the next level.

Still, J.D. Martin is a great story, and it'll be a lot more fun to find out if he can do it than to gather more evidence that Scott Olsen can't.


Sasskuash said...

Stolen from Rich in the "Don't Mess with Lats" comments, below is a link from FanGraphs full of J.D. Martin love. If you read the comments, there are plenty out there around the league who are going to be excited for this kid. Put up your armor though- there's plenty of misguided "The only reason Martin isn't in the big leagues is because the Nats are incompetant" including my favorite, "The Nats would rather pay pitchers millions to walk people than give a good minor leaguer a chance." These people should look up our pitching the last 2 months- I think there's been exactly 2 starts in June or July by a pitcher making more than $500k this season. Anyway, here's the link:

Rich said...

Yeah I had the same feeling that the comments were extreme, however I'm hoping that they are right as nuts as they seem. Hey if he works out and he remains on the 40 man then we have rights to him (at least this what I think Brian wrote a few days ago when I asked). But I have gotten ahead of myself. Let me know how he does I'm gonna be out of the country for the next 3 weeks.

I hope he's up long enough to get a decent look!