Astros’ young pitcher Martes has some room to grow but looks to have the stuff.
When you are on a team like the Houston Astros, there is a very small margin for error. The Astros have a 52-25 record and a 13 game lead in the AL West. At this point of the season, the team should focus on winning series the rest of the way. As good as this team is, they will not be undefeated the rest of the season.
With Dallas Keuchel, Charlie Morton, and Collin McHugh on the DL, some starters are getting an extra chance in the rotation. However, it seems like A.J. Hinch is getting frustrated with pitchers with short outings.
Joe Musgrove found himself being sent down after a June to forget. This is a fate that could be awaiting uber-prospect Francis Martes who had the shortest start of his career. Like Musgrove, Martes has great stuff but is having control with the strike zone.
Martes’ control is an issue.
It seems like he doesn’t have a consistent release point and continues to try to paint the corners. He is a rookie and will most likely not get those close calls. Most of his pitches were way tout low in the strike zone. It seemed like Martes and Evan Gattis was having trouble getting together as well.
As it was pointed out by Robert Flores of ESPN, Hinch was noticeably upset with Martes during the game. When you load the bases in the first two innings on only two hits, the manager is not going to be pleased. Martes allowed four walks and a hit batter. The Astros are lucky that third run didn’t score with Nori Aoki‘s throw to the plate.
Martes has struggled with command all year with the Fresno Grizzlies. He had 28 walks in 32 1/3 innings. That’s about 7.8 walks per nine innings pitched which is not sustainable in the MLB. In 16 1/3 innings with the Astros, Martes has 11 walks for 6.1 walks per nine innings.
A history of control issues.
This is not a typical problem for Martes, as he has a career 3.7 walks per nine innings rate. That is probably inflated a little with his performance this year. As we saw Sunday, the lack of command leads to high pitch counts. He struggled up to deep into games in the minors, his longest outing in Houston was 5 2/3 innings. That was only on 75 pitches. The Astros could be limiting his pitch count.
Martes is tentatively scheduled to pitch Saturday versus the Yankees. If Morton pitches well Tuesday in his rehab game, could he pitch this weekend? Think the Astros will play it safe and give Martes one more start.
Despite his struggles, he showed some potential. Once he improves his command, he has the stuff to succeed in the MLB. He did touch 99 mph at times.
***Stats from Baseball-Reference***