Thursday, August 13, 2009

One Vote for Pedro

The Phillies career of Pedro Martinez was officially launched last night. Although he did not dominate like he did in the prime of his career, his debut performance provided many encouraging signs. It would be unwise and premature to draw conclusions from one outing, but it sure looked like Pedro can help the Phillies in their championship title defense over the balance of the season.

The most encouraging sign in the Phillies 12-5 victory was Martinez's velocity. He consistently threw his fastball in the 90's and frequently touched 92- 93 mph on the Jugs gun. Additionally, Pedro had his signature movement on both his fastball and offspeed pitches. He was particularly effective running his fastball in on the hands of righthanded batters.

Beyond these visible and quantitative observations, a less tangible quality seemed apparent as well. Martinez displayed the competitive fire that has been a key driver throughout his Hall of Fame worthy career. You could sense him bearing down, determined not to give in, when the Cubs put runners on base.

His biggest test came in the 5th inning when the Cubs loaded the bases with no outs with the heart of their order coming up. Although the Cubs scratched out a couple runs, Pedro ramped up his intensity as his pitch count approached the century mark to fight his way out of the inning. He was rewarded with the 215th major league victory of his stellar career.

Certainly, much remains to unfold and play out in the coming weeks. Martinez's final pitch count totalled 99, probably more than Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee would have preferred for his first outing in a year. It will be important to see how he will recover and whether the pitch count will translate into diminished velocity. Of course, it is conceivable that he will continue to build arm strength and velocity.

All in all, it was a very encouraging start. At this point, based on the limited data points available to us, this writer is bullish on Pedro's future contributions. Here's one vote for Pedro.