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Pedro Martinez: A Tale of Two NL Pitchers

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What kind of pitcher did the Phillies sign last year?  A dominant strikeout artist who keeps the ball in the park?  Or a struggling slop thrower who gives up gopher balls?  Since Pedro Martinez returned to the NL in 2005, he's been both.

From 2005 through 2007, Pedro was the dominant Hall of Fame Pedro.  He started 31 games in 2005, finishing the year with a 2.82 ERA.  His 2006 was shortened by injury, but he still got in 23 starts and had a league-average 4.48 ERA.  2007 was almost a complete wash due to injury, but in the 5 starts he did manage to get in, he was great, posting a 2.57 ERA.

Then there was 2008 when he turned into Adam Eaton.  Pedro continued to be plagued by injury, but his troubles were compounded by the death of his father.  He started 20 games for the Mets and finished the year with a terribel 5.61 ERA.

The differences between 2005 through 2007 and 2008 are stark, as the chart below shows:

Season(s) IP ERA ERA+ WHIP HR/9 K/BB
2005-07 377.67 3.38 124 1.04 0.9 4.05
2008 109 5.61 75 1.57 1.6 1.98
Career 2782.67 2.91 154 1.05 0.8 4.14

So which Pedro will show up for the Phillies this year? The dominant Pedro of 2005 through 2007? Or the horrible Pedro of 2008?

The answer lies, I hope, in the last line of the chart I included here. Pedro's performance from 2005 through 2007 is very much in line with his career averages. Even though he was pitching several years removed from his peak, he was still pitching great, just as he has his entire career. 2008 is completely different, and completely out of line with his career. Injuries and personal tragedy struck him hard. If the Phillies did their proper due diligence in investigating his health, we can hope that Pedro's return in 2009 will find him performing like his old self once again. It's hard to believe that he just all of a sudden lost it in 2008 when he hadn't in the years before.