Cardinals pitching coach Mike Maddux likes Carlos Martinez out of the bullpen. Like, from reading this article by Jenifer Langosch the man sounds genuinely giddy about the prospect of having C-Mart throwing in the late innings. Shildt seems to be on board with the idea of Martinez throwing in relief, although he emphasized that he's considered to be a starter for now.
The word that kept getting tossed around when it pertained to Carlos was flexibility. Now please excuse me while I gag.
Look, I liked Carlos out of the bullpen last year too. But that was because the relief corps has a unit was terribad. Carlos was dealing with injury issues and looked like a mess, and it just was in everyone's best interests to have him throw in relief. It was a nice little blast from the past to see him in that role again, but c'mon. This idea just doesn't make much sense.
There's just nothing to suggest that C-Mart is a different animal as a reliever. Take a look:
Carlos the Starter:
Hard hit% 31.1%
Carlos the Reliever:
Hard hit% 25.1%
Carlos is one of those rare beasts whose strikeouts go up when starting. And his walk rate goes up in relief, which is to in line with expectations from those who transition. His xFIP is virtually identical in both roles. There is a noticeable difference in him giving up harder hit balls, but I see nothing here that warrants making a switch.
I mean this is pretty simple, right? If C-Mart is the basically the same pitcher in each role, why throw him for 60-70 innings, albeit in higher leverage, when you can have him for 180-200?
Since switching over to starting, Carlos has been a 3.3-3.4 WAR pitcher per season, with the exception of an injury-marred 2018. 3 WAR relievers are pretty rare. There's been an average of 2 of them over the last three seasons, one of them being the freshly signed Andrew Miller (2016).
Unless we're just really biting our nails over C-Mart's long-term health, then converting him to a reliever should be a non-starter, bad pun intended. The very suggestion erodes my trust in Shildt and Maddux.