J.D. Martin, Nationals (Owned in one percent of Yahoo Leagues)
While Washington’s non-Strasburg starters have been lackluster this season, with a collective 4.68 xFIP that ranks 15th in the NL, Martin’s solid performance so far might not buy him much job security. Scott Olsen (shoulder inflammation) could be back next month, as could Chien-Ming Wang (shoulder). Jordan Zimmermann (Tommy John surgery) is another possibility to pitch in August or September. Returns for Jason Marquis (elbow) and Ross Detwiler (hip) are less certain.
In the meantime, however, NL-only players could do worse. Martin, 27, was a supplemental first-round pick of the Cleveland Indians in the 2001 draft. The 6-4, 200 pound righty once rated prominently on prospect lists, cracking Baseball America’s top 100 prior to 2002. Sadly, injury derailed his ascent to the majors — Martin underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005. His standing in Cleveland’s system slipped, as he was shifted mostly to relief work in 2008, and he then signed as a minor league free agent with the Nationals prior to 2009.
Martin’s a soft-tosser — he features an 87-88 MPH fastball, a mid-80’s cutter, a low-70’s curve and a low-80’s changeup — but he has a quality minor league track record and exceptional control. Last season at Triple-A Syracuse, Martin had 6.44 K/9, 1.02 BB/9, 0.41 HR/9 and a 2.77 FIP in 88 innings pitched. Prior to his late-May call-up in 2010, he whiffed 5.5 per nine, walked 1.8 per nine, surrendered 0.7 HR/9 and held a 3.75 FIP in 41 IP.
Logging 102.1 big league frames over the past two years, Martin has 4.84 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 5.09 xFIP. There’s no guarantee that he’ll succeed — Martin won’t miss many bats, and he’s a fly ball pitcher (37.4 GB%) who has experienced problems with the long ball (1.67 HR/9) — but he could be a decent mid-to-back-end starter. ZiPS projects 5.63 K/9, 2.09 BB/9, 1.29 HR/9 and a 4.44 FIP for the rest of 2010.
Ike Davis, Mets (16%)
The 18th overall pick in the 2008 draft experienced a famous power outage after signing (.256/.326/.326, 0 HR in 239 New York-Penn League PA), causing some Mets fans to rashly wonder if the team made a mistake. Since then, Davis has raked. He batted a combined .298/.381/.524 in 488 PA between the High-A Florida State League and the Double-A Eastern League last season, walking 11.7 percent of the time, punching out 26.1 percent and posting a .226 ISO while going yard 20 times.
After a productive Arizona Fall League stint and a week-plus at the Triple-A level, Davis was bumped up to the majors early in 2010. Davis, 23, has made a seamless transition. The 6-5 lefty hitter has a .261/.345/.447 triple-slash in 226 PA, with a .346 wOBA. He’s showing decent pop, with a .186 ISO, and he’s walking in 11.1 percent of his trips to the plate. Plus, those dugout flips are so freakin’ cool.
Davis has been a fairly aggressive batter, swinging at 29.4% of pitches thrown outside of the strike zone (28.2% MLB average this season), but he holds that double-digit walk rate as a result of seeing very few offerings over the plate. Pitchers are giving Isaac Benjamin an in-zone pitch just 38.3 percent of the time, the lowest rate among qualified MLB hitters (47.3% MLB average). On a related note, opponents are reluctant to give him fastballs — Davis is getting a fastball under 50% of the time, eighth-lowest among big league batsmen. So far, the opposition’s strategy against Ike seems to be, “feed him off-speed stuff off the plate and hope for a chase.” It’ll be interesting to see if that approach shifts in the months to come.
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