It was barely a footnote in last night's loss, but Chris Martin came out of the bullpen to relieve CC Sabathia and turned in a solid outing. Clean inning of work, couple strikeouts, an efficient 11 pitches, it was the type of inning we'd usually expect from Dellin Betances but have yet to see in his setup role. With those struggles being the main bullpen headline thus far, I think it's worth giving a quick shout out to Martin for the excellent job he's done in middle relief.
After last night's appearance, Martin has now pitched 4.2 innings in 5 games. He's given up 2 earned runs on 2 hits, all accumulated in his shaky 4th appearance against Boston over the weekend, and struck out 6 while walking only 1. Not too shabby for a 28-year-old late bloomer who just got his first taste of big league ball last year in pitcher-unfriendly Colorado. He's shown the ability to throw his fastball with velocity (mid-90s 4-seamer) and movement around the strike zone, and he's used his good command to pound that strike zone and work from ahead in the count consistently.
And if you really look at his MiL numbers up to this point, these early SSS results don't seem as surprising. In the Red Sox system from 2011-2013 and in Colorado's Triple-A affiliate last year, Martin was always a high strikeout/low walk guy. His ERA got inflated at a few levels because of bad SSS luck, but his FIP value was always around 3 or lower. He may not have taken the normal path to the Majors, but Martin isn't exactly some bum off the street.
Which is not to say he'll continue to be this effective going forward. It is worth noting that he's only registered swings and misses on 3.5% of the pitches he's thrown. As good as his fastballs have been, he hasn't shown much of a putaway curveball yet. That's something he'll need to incorporate once the word starts getting around the league about him, and as it always is with new back end relievers like him, Martin will have to show he can adjust to the league to continue to be effective and stick around.
For now though, he's doing just fine and appears to have already earned some of Joe's trust. I underestimated Martin when he was announced as making the Opening Day roster, as I'm sure other people did. He's been making me look dumb for that in his first few appearances, and that's been a big help to a still-trying-to-find-it Yankee 'pen.