It’s the end of another era here at BP Boston, as we finally, mercifully have reached the end of Roster Recaps. They’re done, finished, gone! It’s been a long, difficult journey, but we finally made it, and we did it together.
This year’s Roster Recap Mr. Irrelevant? None other than right-handed reliever Kyle Martin.
Kyle Martin probably doesn’t deserve to be the Mr. Irrelevant of this series. Relatively speaking, he still has more long-term value for the organization than, say, Rajai Davis or Kyle Kendrick, primarily because he’s still here and he might be able to Do Some Things at some point. As recently as 2017, he was still showing up on some prospect lists for the organization, after all. He might be perilously close to organizational filler, but he’s not quite there yet.
Martin has had some interesting minor league seasons in recent years; his track record prior to 2017 is actually decently impressive. He put up consecutive seasons with a K/BB over 3.00 in Double- and Triple-A in 2015/16, and both FIP and xFIP felt he outperformed his actual runs-allowed numbers in those seasons. His ERA was 4.50 in 2015 and 3.38 in 2016, and his xFIP in each season was a sterling 2.98. Coupled with his nice changeup and solid strikeout numbers, that’s a pretty decent foundation to build off of. There’s some value to a middle-inning guy who can punch some hitters out, even if it’s not necessarily the most exciting thing any of us has ever seen.
That dynamic changed last season, however, as his Triple-A performance essentially dropped off a cliff. His strikeouts went down, his walks came way up, and FIP wasn’t his best friend anymore. He was worse than his previous minor league performance in almost every way, and more or less pitched his way out of a more significant role with the team last year. Martin entered the season as a possible option for middle relief with the major league squad, but instead, he pitched only 2.1 innings across two July appearances before being DFA’d to make room for Carson Smith’s return from the Disabled List. Therein lies the danger of being an eminently replaceable right-handed reliever, I suppose.
What Went Right:
Not much. I guess his 4.38 ERA in Triple-A wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened, and technically, he had a 3.86 ERA with the big league club. That’s about it. This wasn’t a season to write home about.
What Went Wrong:
Martin had his worst minor league season at the exact wrong time, and it effectively removed him from the major league conversation for the season. He struck out fewer batters, walked more, gave up more home runs, and had his second-worst minor league ERA — this time, without a shiny FIP to go with it. He faced 11 major league batters, allowed four of them to reach base, and the only strikeout he had is down below. Not great, Bob.
What To Expect:
Probably not a whole lot. He’ll be in Triple-A yet again, probably for the whole year. If he can return to his 2015/16 form, and if the Red Sox have a plethora of bullpen injuries, he might be able to find his way back to the majors this season, maybe.
The most interesting aspect of Martin’s season could end up being the Rule 5 Draft in December. If he does return to his previous levels of performance, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a team in need of bullpen help taking a flyer on him. He’s essentially a Quad-A player, but he might be useful to a team that lacks those sort of pitchers. The Red Sox added him to the 40-man roster last year to keep him out of the Rule 5 pool, but they have a plethora of middling righties on the 40-man at the moment, so they might not try to do so again. On second thought, if the Rule 5 Draft is the most interesting thing to expect from your season, maybe you are the right pick for the final Roster Recap.
Au revoir, Roster Recaps. See you next year.
Photo by Aaron Doster — USA TODAY Sports