Dodgers acquire right-handed reliever Chris Martin from Cubs for Zach McKinstry

In Andrew Friedman‘s first salvo at the trade deadline, he acquire right-handed relief pitcher Chris Martin from the Cubs for utility player Zach McKinstry.

If the Chris Martin sounds familiar, and not because of Coldplay, well, this is probably why.

That aside, this is a solid pickup for the Dodgers, even if his Statcast numbers have a bit more blue on them than I’m sure we’d like to see.

Good thing the Dodgers are the best when it comes to limiting exit velocity, so there should be more red here going forward.

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After struggling with the Braves last season, Martin, 36, has bounced back rather nicely. He owns a 4.31 ERA, but a 3.02 FIP, 27.1 K-BB% and a 52.3 GB%. Here’s his pitch breakdown with velocity and usage.

PitchVelocity (MPH)Usage (%)
4-seam fastball95.139.3
Cutter91.229.4
Sinker94.511.3
Splitter88.19.7
Curveball83.96
Slider844.3

That’s … a lot of pitches for a starting pitcher, let alone a reliever. His non-fastball/cutter/sinker pitches are used rather sparingly. But everything he throws — except the 4-seamer — has some ugly batting average against and wOBA against numbers.

  • Cutter: .353 BAA, .324 wOBA
  • Sinker: .375 BAA, .429 wOBA
  • Splitter: .385 BAA, .369 wOBA
  • Curveball: .375 BAA, .526 wOBA
  • Slider: .500 BAA, .715 wOBA

His splitter and curve have good exit velo against marks, but that could also be attributed to small sample size. So, I’d expect him to all but ditch the splitter, curveball and slider and focus on refining the cutter and sinker. His 4-seamer is fine (.196 BAA, .287 wOBA), even if it gets hit a bit hard sometimes (91.3 MPH average exit velocity). Perhaps he could be a right-handed version of Jake McGee and just rely on his fastball (and all its variants).

Going the other way is McKinstry, who got off to a nice start last year in his attempt to replace Enrique Hernandez. Alas, he wasn’t able to sustain the production. As a Dodger, he hit .210/.266/.403 with a 79 wRC+. He’s versatile on defense, so that adds to his utility. He should get a little bit of a look in Chicago.

Taking McKinstry’s spot on the active roster is the Dodgers’ best prospect, solely because of his alma mater.

Stingers Up!

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I wouldn’t expect Martin to take over the closer’s spot from Craig Kimbrel, but he should help stabilize the middle relief portion of the Dodgers’ bullpen. It could take some pressure off the likes of Phil Bickford, Alex Vesia and could open up guys like Yency Almonte and Evan Phillips to pitch in higher-leverage situations. And when Brusdar Graterol returns, the bullpen could be a bit stronger.

All in all, a solid trade. Friedman hates trading for relievers due to the inflated cost, so, this kind of trade is right up his alley. Now, about Juan Soto

About Dustin Nosler

Dustin Nosler began writing about the Dodgers in July 2009 at his blog, Feelin' Kinda Blue. He co-hosted a weekly podcast with Jared Massey called Dugout Blues. He was a contributor/editor at The Hardball Times and True Blue LA. He graduated from California State University, Sacramento, with his bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in digital media. While at CSUS, he worked for the student-run newspaper The State Hornet for three years, culminating with a 1-year term as editor-in-chief. He resides in Stockton, Calif.