(Photo: Dominic Cotroneo/WCSN)
The 2016 season is full of question marks for the Sun Devils. Perhaps there is no bigger uncertainty than how the starting pitching will perform. Only one starter from last season’s weekend rotation, Seth Martinez, returns this year after Brett Lilek and Ryan Kellogg both left after being selected in the MLB Draft.
Last season, the right-hander from Peoria, Arizona posted a 4.03 ERA in 15 starts and 82 and 2/3 innings. While those numbers are not spectacular, they were still serviceable for someone who was considered to be the No. 3 starter in the rotation.
However, he entered the 2015 season with tons of potential that he didn’t quite reach. As a freshman in 2014, he had a 4.32 ERA in seven starts and delivered a phenomenal outing in relief of Lilek in the regionals.
“I just want to stay consistent throughout each appearance that I get and make sure that we all know what’s going to happen when I am on the mound,” Martinez said.
Martinez wants and knows that he can become the ace of ASU’s rotation because a down year from him will leave the Sun Devils fishing for even more answers.
He went into the offseason with a specific mindset of what he needs to improve and believes that can help him have more success.
“I have worked on the mental part of the game and have made sure to be in it for each pitch and just to make sure I’m smart on the mound and give my team the best shot to win,” Martinez said.
As the most experienced starting pitcher on the team, Martinez will be counted on by head coach Tracy Smith to take a step up from last season.
Smith is arguably more familiar with Martinez than anyone else on the pitching staff. During the preseason, he has had nothing but good things to say about him.
“He’s done a really good job of locating the baseball,” Smith said. “His velocity has been back up in that 88-90 mph range which is what has been lacking from him, but he does everything else really well. He holds the runners, controls the running game, understands more than just see fastball throw fastball.”
“He gets all the intricacies that go with pitching. The fact that he is throwing multiple pitches in the zone for strikes now gives you a chance to win, whether he is a No. 1 or No. 2 or Sunday guy, he is going to give us a chance,” Smith continued.
As an upperclassmen, Martinez has taken it upon himself to become a leader.
“I think that happens naturally. When those guys go out, we need other guys to step up. We have had multiple guys do that so far. It is my year to lead, but we have had other guys do that too,” Martinez said.
In addition, Smith mentioned him specifically when asked who has stepped up into a leadership role.
His development on the mound is one thing, but if Martinez can evolve into the leader he is expected to be, it would be a huge boost for the Sun Devils.
Everything is lined up for him to finally break-out this season, so perhaps nobody will be under the watchful eye of both the ASU coaching staff and fans for the first few weeks of the season like Martinez will. He will be one of the key cogs for ASU this season, regardless of how much success they have.