I don't want to live in a world where Carlos Martinez doesn't show emotion.
There's a difference between being emotional and experiencing mental issues on a pitching mound.
Martinez's emotional state has been a popular topic for Cardinals fans since the 26-year-old broke in with the team back in 2013. From the minute he landed on a pitching mound in the Majors, Martinez has let it all hang out and there's nothing wrong with that. A lesser amount of emotion won't make Martinez a better pitcher.
Carlos Martinez's emotion is a good thing. I like a guy who goes out there, shows passion, and doesn't shelve it so others can feel better about the outcome of a game. Martinez's passion is what drives him to become a better pitcher, and more importantly, a better man altogether. Why talk about it like it's a problem?
On Thursday, Mike Matheny said preparation is key for an emotional player like Martinez. Without saying it outright, Matheny still connected Martinez's emotion to his ability to climb higher in this game. This can be digested in a number of ways, with one being the manager still wonders about his ace's ability to harness his emotions. I think the young pitcher is growing into his large role.
Being overly emotional isn't the same as being mentally unprepared. Martinez's problems in his career thus far hinge on being mentally prepared to handle adversity in a baseball at times and knowing how to calm himself down. Yadier Molina told reporters at the Winter Warm-up that Martinez needed to be stronger mentally in order to take the next step to becoming a Cy Young award winning pitcher. He didn't say, "Martinez is too emotional out there."
Every single start, Martinez climbs the mound with a load of passion and talent, and we hope those two work hand in hand to produce a successful outcome.
What we are seeing is the normal progression of a Major League pitcher entering his fourth season as a full-time starting pitcher. Just look at the three years of rotation work from Martinez.
2015: 29 starts, 179 innings pitched.
2016: 31 starts, 195 innings pitched.
2017: 32 starts, 205 innings pitched.
Here's the thing to worry about: every year, Martinez's ERA and FIP have risen, ever so slightly. A 3.01 ERA rose to 3.64 last year, and the FIP went from 3.21 to 3.91 in 2017. However, the walk rate has been steady, while the strikeout rate has gone up instead of down. He is still figuring out how to put it all together, but in looking at his complete games and innings load in 2017, there are steps in the right direction being taken.
Once again, Martinez is only 26. Look at other emotional beasts on the mound. Max Scherzer, who should be a Cardinal right now, is a ferocious competitor on the mound, but he didn't completely put it all together until he was 28. Former Cardinal Chris Carpenter didn't become a Cy Young caliber pitcher until late in his 20's, and he is a maniac on the mound, screaming at his teammates and opposing players.
It takes time to become a dominant starting pitcher. Emotions have nothing to do with it. If anything, they bolster a pitcher's makeup. Lobotomizing Martinez's heart on the mound would be a mistake. It would render him a different pitcher, which would be good for no one. If his emotions are a problem, how did Martinez hold opposing hitters to a .393 slugging percentage with runners on base last year?
Carlos Martinez is progressing just fine on the mound, and 2018 should tell us how far he has come or how far he has left to go. If he can bring the ERA down below 3.00 and cut down on the errors made on the mound while keeping the strikeout rate high and walk rate low, the Cy Young could be his. He's got the talent, the passion, and the tools. Now, he simply needs to become more mentally sound on a pitching mound. In other words, keep growing. Year four is always a big step.
I like Martinez's passion and emotion. It makes me think he could be the next Carpenter. Maybe even better.
2018 will begin to give us the true answers about this new ace of the Cardinals pitching staff. Emotion shouldn't be a concern.