I am not going to complain about the way Cristhian Martinez's injury was handled, mostly because I have no idea why it was handled the way that it was. It was announced yesterday at about 10:00pm by the Braves twitter account that Martinez received shoulder surgery earlier that day that went successful. That is all well and good, except for the fact that nobody even knew he was about to receive shoulder surgery. It was kept a secret, for whatever reason.
Martinez has been a solid pitcher for the Braves for the past few years. He was one of my favorite relievers on the team, mainly for his ability to pitch multiple innings and effectively get both right-handers and left-handers out. When he initially went on the DL, it reeked of "mystery DL," because the team had just acquired Luis Ayala and needed to take someone out of the bullpen to fill his role. As the season continued, we heard less and less about Martinez with sparing updates every so often. He started a rehab stint a few weeks ago, throwing three times -- one in rookie ball and two in double-A. Then it was said that he suffered a set back, followed by a sudden need for surgery yesterday afternoon.
However odd the timeline was, the likelihood that Martienz is non-tendered now is very high. Since he is entering arbitration and is expected to miss seven to eight months as he recovers from his surgery, the Braves have likely seen Martinez throw his last pitch in Atlanta. The same has already likely been true for Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters.
What is crazy is that those have been three of the Braves better relievers since 2010 and yet the bullpen continues to be one of, if not the, team's biggest strengths. The team's 2.61 reliever ERA easily ranks first in baseball with the Pirates settling in at second with a 2.87 mark. The fact that Frank Wren has built a bullpen that can lose its top two set up men and one of its most flexible and reliable relievers over the past few years and still have clearly the best bullpen in baseball is mind boggling.
If there is one area of building a team that I now have full trust in Wren doing, it is building a bullpen. Not only does he build great bullpens but he hardly spends any money in that arena. He is extremely efficient and extremely successful at figuring out how to limit runs when the starters come out. When the Braves let all of these guys walk and the next set of relievers gets hurt or flames out, have faith that Wren will put together a squad worthy of keeping wins in tact and turning almost certain losses into victories.