Cristhian Martinez (by Adam M.)

Cristhian Martinez is something of a forgotten man in the Braves bullpen. Sometimes it seems like his own manager forgets about him.

Don’t get me wrong: Martinez, aptly nicknamed “The Lisp” by Mac a couple years ago, gets plenty of opportunities to pitch. Last season, his 73 2/3 innings in relief easily led the Braves: among other relievers, only Craig Kimbrel and Chad Durbin cracked the 60-innings mark.

But he pitches that much because of his role as the team’s long man, and that role confines him mostly to meaningless moments: 968 of his 1,179 pitches came in low leverage situations. Put another way, Martinez’s gmLI, or game leverage index, was only 0.67 — among all relievers who pitched at least 50 innings, Martinez had the fourth-lowest tally, behind only the immortal Rhiner Cruz, Louis Coleman, and Alfredo Simon.

It’s not quite clear why Martinez got stuck in permanent garbage duty, but Cristhian has never been particularly sought after. He’s from the Dominican Republic, but he didn’t get signed as an amateur free agent until the Tigers picked him up when he was 21. Three years later, the Marlins got him in the minor league Rule 5 draft. Four years after that, the Braves picked him up off waivers.

Whatever the scenario, however, Martinez proved to be pretty effective in 2012. A somewhat mediocre 3.91 ERA masked a much more impressive 3.16 FIP. Meanwhile, the Lisp continued his evolution away from a groundball specialist into more of a swing-and-miss pitcher: despite a fastball that barely rates as average (mean velocity of 89-90 mph), he has learned how to get guys to chase his above-average slider and changeup, and his 21% swinging strike rate in 2012 is well above the league average of 15%.

All told, his 7.94 K/9 and always-excellent control combined to give him a 3.42 K/BB ratio. That mark rated second among the bullpen regulars (third if we count Cory Gearrin), and is worthy of our notice.

In 2013, Martinez will most likely retain his role as the team’s long man, which he has been very good at. For one thing, the team just acquired fireballing righty Jordan Walden, and the bullpen still retains Gearrin, Luis Avilan, and O’Ventbrel. For another, Martinez’s limited appearances in high leverage situations have seemingly (and perhaps not unfairly) scared Fredi away from giving him more of them.

Still, I’d be interested to see the Lisp get in a little more work when the game is in doubt. At the very least, having Martinez should make it unnecessarily for the Braves to obtain another veteran right-handed reliever.

So let’s save ourselves from the Albie Lopezes, Elmer Dessenses, Julian Tavarezes, Tanyon Sturtzes, Scott Linebrinks and Proctorses, and for heaven’s sake the Livan Hernandezes, and just worry about the lineup for a change.

76 thoughts on “Cristhian Martinez (by Adam M.)”

  1. I missed the name change thread last night. I am not a late night lurker.

    One, I don’t like the modern singular names.

    I believe it would be best to reflect a city’s heritage in its team’s name. I am reminded of three literary sources.

    In about 1988 National Geographic did a perspective piece on Atlanta. They led off with an interview with a 90 or so year old woman who was Hardy Pace’s (Paces Ferry Road) descendant (I believe great granddaughter). She lived in a Victorian house in Vinings. They asked her what she believed her ancestor would think about all of the sprawl and development. She said something to the effect that “He would love it because he would know he would be making some money off of all of this.” From that the author said “if New York is the Big Apple, and New Orleans is the Big Easy, then Atlanta is the Big Hustle.”

    Millard Grimes at Georgia Trend wrote an article on his perspective of the meaning of “Gone With the Wind”. He suggested that it was an allegory in which Scarlet is the business interests of Atlanta that would act genteelly Southern and think they were a genteel Southerner when in fact they would sell their souls for the buck every time.

    And third, “A Man in Full.

    So, I propose: The Atlanta Hustlers.

    That would fit the population no matter the demographic. Whether Tom Cousins or Usher Raymond, or John Portman or Tyler Perry, or Bernie Marcus and Arther Blank, or Truett Cathy, or Herman Russell or any miscellaneous street vendor, all races, religions, and perspectives contribute to, and are good at, the money changing.

    And that name would also please the “pro scrappy ballplayer” group.

  2. Nice job Adam. I’m stil trying to figure out what it is about the Braves that finds guys like this when so few other teams seem to. Could it be McDowell knows a few tricks, or is just really really good at relievers in the way Mazzone seemed to be really really good with starters? The Lisp’s main leverage role is in games which go past the 11th, in which he’s usually put in to finish the game (I’d look all this up if I weren’t so lazy.) Depending on how the season shapes up, maybe the transition role for him is a few spot starts if we need them. That’s what long relievers used to do back in the day.

  3. I’ll go on the record saying that the Braves should not be looking for bullpen pieces via free agency for years to come.

  4. We’ve clawed our way back into some games over the last few seasons thanks to The Lisp, which is all you can really ask for from a long reliever. Goes about his business, as they say.

    While we certainly don’t need any bullpen help, I’ll be intrigued to see if Ugueth Urbina can make his way back to the bigs. He seems to think he can still carve up enough hitters to be an effective fireman, but who knows?

  5. For at least a season and a half I’ve felt quietly confident when Martinez came into the game though it was rarely in important situations. Especially his change-up seemed to be getting very effective which is pretty good considering him working off a less than stellar fastball. It’s probably more deceptive than average due to his quite non-textbook delivery.

  6. We don’t need him in the role, but I always thought The Lisp might become a decent fifth starter.

    His assortment of pitches reminds me of a healthy Jair somewhat.

    The Atlanta Freaking Expos. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

  7. The Sevarb Atnaltas. Then we could send the team to the fifth dimension and replace them with one that has more money and a better TV deal.

  8. The obvious name change would be to simply move from “Braves” to “Bravos.”

    I too think “The Lisp” is the best Braves Journal nickname, at least until Operation Running Bear really takes off.

    I always think Christhian Martinez’ mother, when she calls him, does it in the voice of Oliver Platt calling d’Artagnan in the 1993 film version of “The Three Musketeers.”

  9. Adam M.

    Thanks for a well-written post. I feel like I better understand this pitcher’s role and how well he performed it.

    That’s a real pleasure,

    Go Braves!

  10. I don’t remember who, but the other day I heard an announcer refer to a different but likewise named player, as “Kris tee on” which sounded reasonable to me. Of course, there are still announcers who say “Ondruw,” so who knows how much they really know.

  11. @3

    Good points about Atlanta. For a long time this city was in a hurry to escape its history and play catchup with other more cosmopolitan places, while simultaneously ensuring that the gentry stayed in place. We’ll tear down anything that’s 30 years old, but the result is not necessarily improvement…just a continuing sense of impermanence. And hustlers thrive in an environment of instability.

    The result is a distinctly unbeloved city core — it’s hard even to find things to romanticize in the heart of downtown Atlanta, aside from a few old churches. There’s barely even a grubby charm to it. The saving grace of this city is the many, many great neighborhoods and enclaves within a few miles of downtown.

  12. Oh, I am at The Glenwood tonight in East Atlanta if you want to get a drink on your way out of town, Alex.

  13. The Clermont Lounge is in Poncey-Highlands and the Metroplex is an office space. Both illustrate the point — one is close to the core but not in it, and the other is gone.

  14. And outside of, what, SunTrust, there aren’t any real businesses located downtown either. AT&T has a campus in Brookhaven. I guess Coke is still downtown.

  15. I don’t see how the Fish could get equal value on Stanton. They are restocking with no aspirations to compete for the next, say, two years.

    Any package of top prospects will all be lottery tickets, and any proven major leaguer will put them right where they already are: one star with a bunch of prospects.

  16. @33 He flew into a rage when McCarthy threw a challenge flag on a potential scoring play. McCarthy was ridiculously stupid for doing it, but Rodgers just had to put on a big show.

    @34 The Clermont is in the heart of East Atlanta. Basically, if you can walk to Five Points in about 20 minutes or less, you’re downtown. Otherwise not.

  17. The Clermont is in Poncey-Highlands, which is the first neighborhood directly east of Downtown Atlanta. It is basically the stretch of Ponce de Leon and North that runs from the edges of Downtown proper along the edges of Virginia Highlands and into Decatur-ish (as the name implies.) Downtown ends, more or less, at Piedmont, and Poncey-Highlands is the district between ViHi (too the north, abutting Midtown on the Peachtree corridor) and Old Fourth Ward (to the south, running from the edges of Downtown into Inman Park.)

  18. To be precise, what regional planners refer to as Downtown is the area bounded to the east by I75-85, to the south by I20, to the west by Northside Drive, and to the north by North Ave.

  19. Oh sure, if you were to say “the Clermont is the living, breathing heart of Atlanta” you would get no argument from me!

  20. Thanks for the geography lesson. I thought that every damn street in Atlanta was named ‘Peachtree’.

  21. Only about half of the streets are named “Peachtree.” Most of those are things like “Peachtree-Dunwoody,” which connects Peachtree to Dunwoody.

  22. Yeah, So I’m at the corner of Peachtree-something and Peachtree-something and going What the Hell?

  23. Well,

    Happy New Year to everyone, and let’s all raise a cold beverage of our choice this evening to the memory of Mac, who’s responsible for this gaggle of funny people in this little old corner of the internetz.

  24. Oh, and I personally plan to raise a cold beverage to the memory of the Edit Button as well. But that’s just me.

  25. Is it just when I’m paying attention or is Tony Romo a terrible QB?

    Also, if ever I was given the opportunity to name a road in Atlanta, I would call it Peachtree-Peachtree.

  26. I think Tony Romo is sort of like Schrodinger’s cat. He seems to be fine, but as soon as you look at him, he throws a game-killing interception.

    On the other hand, compared to Mark Sanchez, Tony Romo is Johnny Unitas. I can’t quite wrap my head around the Jets deciding to keep Rex Ryan, and I can’t understand how Sanchez ended the season as the starting Jets quarterback. I’m pretty sure that there are beer league quarterbacks who could have put up that performance at a fraction of the cost.

  27. I think Romo is a good QB, but not great. If he was the QB for the Titans, he would fly under the radar. Becuase he is the QB for the Cowboys, it is a different story

    That was a bad pick last night. He was just fooled. It happens. The Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs this year due to bad coaching moves and injuries, more so than Romo.

  28. I cant think of one big game where Romo has won a football game for his team. For that matter, I cant think of one big game where he didnt cost the team the victory.

  29. @56 What about that playoff game where he botched the hold on the field goal in 07?

    On January 6, 2007, the Dallas Cowboys traveled to Qwest Field to play the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC wild card playoff round. With the Cowboys down 21-20 and 1:19 left on the clock, Dallas attempted a 19-yard field goal. Romo botched the hold for the kicker by dropping the snap as he attempted to set it down. Romo then tried to run into the end zone for an impromptu touchdown, but was tackled at the one-yard line by Seattle defensive back Jordan Babineaux.

  30. Romo’s big games.

    01/06/2007 – NFC Wild Card playoff, Romo bobbles 19yd FG snap. Lose to Seahawks 21-20

    01/13/2008 – Lost to Eagles, 44-6. Romo had 3INT 183yds 0TD

    2009 season – NFC Divisional round. Romo had 3 fumbles, 1INT, 6 sacks. Lost 34-3

    2010 – Injured

    2011 – 29 of 37, 289YDS 2TD 1INT, but lost 31-14 and fell to 8-8.

    2012 – Last night, 20 for 37 218yrds 3INT

  31. If you could take someone who plays like Romo in unimportant games and Eli in important games, you’d have Aaron Rodgers. But if you take someone who plays like Romo in important games and Eli in unimportant games, you have Mark Sanchez.

  32. Speaking of bad quarterbacking, I have yet to see a good game from a QB named Glennon. Stu must be very happy right now. And also drunk.

  33. Bill Shanks on Nick Ahmed: “Ahmed has a unique combination of speed and line drive power, much like (Andrelton) Simmons.”

    So, not as unique as you might think, I guess?

  34. Shout-outs to Adam & Rob for nice write-ups. Been under the weather, so it’s nice to come out of a NyQuil-induced haze to some cogent analysis.

    Always been a fan of middle-inning guys who can soak up quality innings, so I dig having a guy like The Lisp. And here’s to the 2011 version of J. Venters. His command & confidence took quite a dip last year.

    Ah, The Metroplex… Perhaps not as legendary as the 688 Club, but certainly twice as filthy, and it definitely presented an impressive litany of scuzzbucket bands. (The bottom of the barrel? The Mentors.)

    Congrats to the Vandy Folk & Happy New Year to all in BravesLand.

    (Oh, and go Dogs!)

  35. I don’t know if you guys have discussed this, but what do you think of the possibility of Kelly Johnson for left field?

  36. I should add on this New Year’s Eve that DeKuyper makes a Peppermint Schnapps that’s 100 proof, and it’s brilliant!

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