WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Since the day he was hired, we’ve all wondered what kind of manager Davey Martinez would be, especially when it comes to in-game strategy. Having had no prior managerial experience, there’s no advance scouting report to consider, only speculation based on his answers to various questions posed his way.
We got a few glimpses into Martinez’s strategic mindset over the winter, and we’re starting to get more in these early days of spring training. Such as his philosophy on when to pull starting pitchers.
Martinez was asked Saturday about the recent trend in baseball to try to avoid letting a starter face an opposing lineup three times in one game. The Dodgers and Astros, in particular, used that tact during their respective runs to the World Series, and there is growing statistical evidence that many teams are better off turning to their bullpen for that third trip through the lineup.
Martinez gets all that. He also takes a look at the rotation he’s now got in Washington, and he questions whether it’s a wise strategy to pull his starters early.
“We’ve got pretty good pitching,” he said. “Do I want to see them there through the sixth, seventh inning? Of course. ... I’m not that guy or that manager where the third time around the order (means) let’s just get somebody fresh in there. Sometimes these guys are really good the third time around the order. They get stronger. So we’ll just play it by ear and see how they do.”
Martinez knows his Nationals personnel. Opponents hit a paltry .158/.242/.301 their third time around against Max Scherzer last season. Stephen Strasburg had similar numbers: .185/.264/.277. Gio Gonzalez wasn’t far behind: .224/.294/.348. Tanner Roark was less effective: .245/.303/.446. But the right-hander had comparable numbers the first and second times he faced a lineup.
In other words, don’t look for Martinez to have a real quick hook with his starters. Besides, he’s seen the videos of managers trying to remove Scherzer from a game before the ace is ready.
“I know for a fact,” the new manager said, “that to get the ball from Scherzer, it’s going to tough.”