March 23, 2013; Dunedin, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Cristhian Martinez (50) throws a pitch during the sixth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
The dust has settled surrounding the Luis Ayala trade, and the damage is that Cristhian Martinez is headed to the disabled list. When Frank Wren went out and brought in Ayala, it was almost certainly going to be accompanied by a significant roster move (trade/release/DL), and this is the final puzzle piece.
Martinez has suffered a strained right shoulder, and while there is no timetable for his return, shoulder injuries are generally the worst injuries (elbow included) for pitchers at this stage. He gave the Braves 70+ quality innings in each of the past two seasons (including a 3.16 FIP in 2012) and was considered to be the prime long-relief candidate. This season, however, Martinez looked to be a bit “off” in his first 2 outings, failing to strike out a batter in 2.1 innings and finishing with an ERA of 7.71 in a wildly small sample size.
The Braves will go into the Nationals series (Friday through Sunday) with Craig Kimbrel (closer), Eric O’Flaherty, Jordan Walden, Luis Avilan, Cory Gearrin, Anthony Varvaro, and the newly acquired Luis Ayala as their bullpen.