When Pedro Martinez was screwed out of the 1999 MVP award, many of the people who were against him suggested that he didn’t play enough. How could someone who only played once every five games be more valuable than someone who played in almost every game? Of course, that argument was absurd. For one thing, the starting pitcher obviously has much more control over the game than an outfielder does. Even Mookie Betts. And, if you want to get technical, a hitter probably steps to the plate around 600 in a year. A starting pitcher throwing 200 innings faces around 800 hitters. So, those numbers would show that a starting pitcher affects more of the game than a hitter over a season. Of course, with that logic, a catcher would be the only player to ever win an MVP because he has his 600 plate appearances, AND every other opposing batter. Of course, it was a catcher who stole the award from Pedro.
That’s one of the reasons I always preferred the other argument. Pedro was so good, he didn’t just affect his game. He affected two others as well. If you were the starting pitcher in the game before Pedro’s, you didn’t have to pitch as well. The bullpen would be there to bail you out. After all, might as well burn the bullpen because Pedro wouldn’t need it the next day. Maybe just the closer. Maybe. So, the Sox had a better chance in the game before Pedro pitched because of his presence. Similarly, the game after Pedro had the same effects. Might as well go ahead and use the bullpen that game. After all, they all had the previous day off. They’re all rested and ready to go. So, Pedro wasn’t just dominating his games. He was allowing the Sox to be a better team in games he wasn’t pitching.
That’s pretty valuable.
So, what’s my point? Do I need a point?
The Sox could use Pedro today. The game last night in Kansas City went 13 innings. The bullpen was spent. Everyone they had was called upon to help out. Then, the Sox all had to hop on a plane for a game in Oakland. If ever the Sox could use an 8-inning shutout, it would be today.
The closest thing the 2017 Sox have to Pedro Martinez is Chris Sale. But, he’s not pitching today. Instead they called up a minor league pitcher for a spot start. That doesn’t exactly scream “bullpen saver” to me. I would assume 5 innings was an expected maximum for tonight. Is that still the case? Will they need to stretch that expectation out because everyone else is tired?
At least Sale is scheduled for tomorrow. Hopefully that would stop any bleeding before it gets too crazy. Shouldn’t need too many arms to try and go three days in a row.
All this just shows what a valuable player Pedro Martinez was. He allowed you to do things with your team that other players just didn’t allow. He made you better everywhere else.
The Sox could use a little of that from Chris Sale.