ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 5: Catcher Robinson Chirinos #61 of the Texas Rangers looks on as pitching coach Mike Maddux comes in to speak with pitcher Nick Martinez #22 after he walked James Loney of the Tampa Bay Rays during the sixth inning of a game on April 5, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Nick Martinez wasn't anywhere near the conversation to be in the Texas Rangers' starting rotation throughout most of spring training. Then, all the sudden, when the Rangers broke camp and prepared to begin the 2014 season, they set their opening rotation and included Martinez in the fifth spot in the rotation.
It was a move that pretty much came out of nowhere, as the young righty had never pitched but just five games above the Single-A level prior to this season.
Martinez fared well in his first start against the Tampa Bay Rays, working six innings and allowing three runs for a quality start. He did allow two homers and walked three while striking out three batters in a no-decision.
Since returning to the minor leagues after that start, Martinez has struggled while trying to develop a new pitch — a two-seam fastball — and has had a problem allowing walks recently. He can't do that on Tuesday night when he prepares for his second start against the AL West rival Oakland A's. Their hitters are far too patient and too good to put guys on for free.
Martinez is taking the place of Tanner Scheppers, who was both ineffective as a starter and injured, and is currently on the DL with elbow inflammation.
It's a nasty environment to throw a 23-year-old inexperienced pitcher into, but if Martinez can succeed in this start, he could be well on his way to gaining more trust from the pitching braintrust.