In a season-ending countdown, we'll weigh in on some of the pleasant surprises for the Rangers in what was arguably the most disappointing season in franchise history.
No. 8: Nick Martinez, RHP
2014 stats: 5-12, 4.55 ERA, 140 1/3 innings, 77 strikeouts, 55 walks
You may look at those numbers above and say "wait a second..." and you'd be right to do so because the numbers aren't good for a starting pitcher. But you have to realize Martinez's season was one of ups and downs. He had good stretches, and he had bad ones, and the final result was some mediocre numbers.
Then take into consideration what Martinez was doing in 2013 before he was thrust into the Rangers' opening day rotation when Yu Darvish started the season on the disabled list. In fact, Martinez had pitched just five games at Double-A to close the 2013 season after spending most of the year in Class-A ball. He wasn't a candidate to be anywhere near the Rangers' rotation at that point, but a strong spring training upped his standing in the minds of the front office.
When the opportunity came about thanks to several starting pitchers being injured to start the season, Martinez answered the call. The most promising thing about him was that when he had a bad start, he always seemed to bounce back and be better — a rare trait for a young, inexperienced starter.
The Rangers said all year they were fans of Martinez and his potential as a big-league starter, and if all goes well in 2015, he'll likely start the season in Triple-A, which would be great for his development. If not that, he could start the season as a bullpen piece in Arlington but the club's affinity for Martinez as a starter makes it likely they'll want him to start every fifth day in Triple-A.
Previous entries: No. 9 Leonys Martin