Though more of a Strat-o-Matic fan than a fantasy baseball enthusiast, I aid some friends in their decision making processes for the latter from time to time. Last night, while hanging out for the Phillies-Reds game, one of these friends posed a question I have been asked countless times this season: What do you think of Shairon Martis? While my response involved nothing more than a gesture, encapsulated in the body language was my lack of confidence in the pitcher.
For fantasy purposes, I can see where Martis has value since he sports a 5-0 record, but he isn’t really offering much outside of that meaningless metric, for both fantasy and reality.
Through eight starts, Martis is averaging right around 6 IP/GS with 47.2 total innings. His 4.53 ERA and 4.58 FIP match up rather well and scream average. Now, an average pitcher is certainly an asset for a team, but I am quite skeptical that Martis can continue to perform at a league average level with his current peripherals and skillset.
For starters, his 4.34 K/9 and 3.59 BB/9 do not exactly imply dominance. Martis is also very unlikely to sustain a .269 BABIP over the course of the season, an inevitable regression that will taint his current numbers regardless of a below average strand rate bound to improve.
Further, it also isn’t as if Martis throws like Johnny Cueto, a young stud with a blazing fastball that needs to work out a few kinks before graduating from Throwing College into Pitching University. Martis throws a 90.3 mph fastball with about average movement and does not exactly resemble Derek Lowe in the groundball department. On top of that, none of his pitches, per the fantastic linear weights addition to the site, are disgusting or supremely dominant in any fashion.
Listing comparables for a pitcher proves to be a rather tall order given the numerous facets of performance that must be taken into account, but the way Martis is currently pitching seems to closely match the output of Jason Marquis last season, at least in the ERA, FIP, K/9, BB/9 and HR/9 areas. Martis gets hype because of the 5-0 record and the fact that nobody has seen him in action before, but deep down, his performance to date is akin to 2008 Jason Marquis.
ZiPS projects Martis to end the season with a 4.89 FIP in about 162 innings, which, when coupled with the projected rates of controllable skills, resembles the 2008 campaign of Tim Redding. Martis is pitching like Marquis right now with the projection of Redding for the remainder of the season.
Martis is only 22 years old, which makes him very attractive in the world of keeper leagues, be it for fantasy or Strat purposes, but he has not done anything right now to suggest that he will be anything more than a marginal fourth starter. Bear in mind that my opinion is in no way concrete after some starts this year and a few more last season, and that these feelings are derived more from questioning his selection, movement and velocity as opposed to the actual results.
To walk hitters at his current rate and remain successful, a pitcher either needs to have a flukily good year preventing the longball or strike hitters out at a rate far superior to 4.34 per nine innings. Color me skeptical that Martis’ combination of velocity, movement, and pitch selection can definitely get that job done.