On Dec. 10, 2020, Oakland Athletics prospect Seth Martinez was selected in the Rule 5 Draft by the Houston Astros. The then 26-year-old never pitched past Double-A, becoming an exclusive reliever after starting double-digit games at the beginning of his minor-league career.
Martinez began his 2021 season in Triple-A Sugar Land, pitching to a 2.81 ERA over 57.2 relief innings with the Skeeters. The right-hander received his major-league debut by late September with an addition to the 40-man roster.
Finding low-leverage outings early, the righty accumulated three innings of relief, yielding five runs on five hits and three walks before his first option on Sept. 26. Martinez didn’t return to the Astros for the remainder of 2021, while his future with the club remained unknown.
After looking fringe on the Astros’ 40-man, Seth Martinez blossoms into longer relief depth.
Martinez would likely be the first right-hander optioned for the return of Jake Odorizzi, but without a rehab timeline reported, Martinez should be in line for a higher-leverage outing.
Over his eight innings in May, Martinez has allowed four hits and issued three walks but not a single runner has crossed home in his four appearances. A matter of fact, Martinez hasn’t allowed a runner over all nine of his major-league innings in 2022, while sporting a 2.71 FIP.
With a limited amount of time under his belt, Martinez doesn’t qualify for all pitching percentiles on Baseball Savant other than fastball velocity and fastball spin, where he sits below the League average. But with a heavier sample in pitches thrown compared to last season, Martinez’s arsenal is already seeing a major difference.
Martinez’s most thrown pitch is his four-seam fastball, seeing the plate nearly 32% of the time, but in 2021, the heater saw almost 60% of his 63 pitches thrown. Although pitch calling was altered, the fastball wasn’t offering any damage to Martinez, while it limited hitters to a .141 xBA.
As his fastball sees less actions, Martinez’s cutter is crossing the plate at a higher clip, but in such small samples, the comparison regarding opposing hitter’s success isn’t justified equally. Average velocities on all five pitches are roughly 1.0 mph higher than 2021 with almost identical movement, which comes with consistent pitch time.
The greater variance of pitches thrown may work in Martinez’s favor early, and while he accumulates more consistent outings in lieu of injury, the right-hander’s success can be further evaluated.
As Martinez eats two or three innings of low-leverage innings for the Astros, the right-hander’s next step should come as a test. Every game displays the same value in the standings, but placing Martinez in a high-leverage situations offers for further evaluation for the bullpen’s depth.