March 10, 2005

NY: Turns Out Pedro Is Good, After All!

Now that Pedro Martinez is in New York, the Gotham sportswriters are seeing him in a different light. Witness this lede from Mark Hale in Wednesday's Post:
When the Mets signed Pedro Martinez, you probably heard a lot that they signed a guy who's only a six-inning starter. And that sometime around 100 pitches, he needs to be pulled or he loses his effectiveness. There's only one problem. Neither is true.

"It's a perception that the media has perceived because of isolated incidences," Met pitching coach Rick Peterson says. Peterson is correct, of course, which is why it's time to de-bunk the two biggest myths about Pedro's pitching.

Start with the idea that Martinez can't go past the sixth inning. In Martinez's 33 regular season starts for Boston last year, he failed to go six innings just five times. He went exactly six innings six times. And he went more than six innings 22 times — two-thirds of his starts.

That's the same number of times as Roger Clemens and more times than younger aces like Carlos Zambrano (20 times) and Barry Zito (18).

Of course, there may be some who scoff at that and say, "Sure, but how did he perform from the seventh inning on?" Well, in innings 1-6 last year, the 33-year-old Martinez held hitters to a .239 average. In innings 7-9, the average against him was .226. That's right — batters fared worse against him in the later innings.
Here are Pedro's numbers from 2004:
Inning 1 137 .281 .321 .531
Innings 1-3 410 .239 .303 .413
Innings 4-6 380 .240 .303 .382
Innings 7-9 99 .226 .267 .409
Martinez's splits from 2002-04 tell a similar story.

But these stats are deceptive, because when would Pedro have had the opportunity to pitch into the 7th, 8th and/or 9th innings? When he's on his game and having no problems. If he was getting lit up or forced to throw a lot of pitches, he's going to be sitting in the dugout by the time the 7th inning rolls around. His late inning numbers are going to be mostly drawn from his good-to-great outings.

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