The middle-inning right-handed relievers are up next in our season reviews. Chad Durbin overcame a poor start to put together solid results, while Cristhian Martinez was essentially the opposite, throwing well but some poor luck left his ERA a bit higher than expected.
Signing on April 3, Durbin’s Brave career could have easily lasted only one month. He allowed a homer in each of his first three appearances, and five through May 7. Due to all the rotation problems, Durbin managed to remain in the bullpen, putting together 19 straight scoreless outings after that. He ended the season with a 3.10 ERA, but a 4.78 FIP and 4.41 xFIP show the luck involved.
His K rate was at 19%, essentially league average, not surprising considering his high usage of fastballs and cutters. His walk rate was at 10%, too high for the lack of strikeouts. His first-pitch strike percentage was alright at 61.5%, so he likely nibbled too much after getting ahead. His batted ball profile was improved, only allowing 16% line drives and getting a career-high 48% groundballs, resulting in a .251 BABIP.
His walk and strikeout rates were much better against lefties, but a lower BABIP and HR rate led to better results against righties. He also had better BB and K rates at home, but lower BABIP and HR rates on the road. Surprisingly, his OPS allowed with RISP was above league average, which makes the disparity between his ERA and FIP more confusing. In his free agent post, Fred suggested re-signing him for $2M, but I’d let someone else pay the 35-year-old for that ERA.
Another unheralded part of the bullpen, Martinez was an effective low-leverage reliever, posting a 3.16 FIP and 3.52 xFIP, though a high BABIP drove his ERA up to 3.91. Only eight of his 54 outings had an average leverage value of 1.00, so most of his duties were in mop-up type role, averaging over an inning an outing. He allowed 23 of his 33 runs in nine outings, so he was usually really good or blowing up.
Martinez’s peripherals were fine, putting up a 5% walk rate and 21% K rate. His first-pitch strike rate was at 63%, very good for someone with as electric stuff as him. Speaking of the stuff, his changeup is as good as anyone’s in the game, good fade and great depth. He may have been a bit too aggressive, however, as he allowed an OPS nearly double the league average on 0-2 and 2-2 counts.
He had a large reverse platoon split, though the main factors were BABIP and HR rate, as he didn’t allow a homer to a lefty all year. His K and HR rate were twice as good at home, but his road ERA was better. He did fade down the stretch, as his K rate dropped in August and after a few walks in September, he had a 15-day stretch without entering a game. Entering his first year of arbitration at age 31, Martinez will likely get $800-900K, making him a no-brainer to bring back.