The St. Louis Cardinals may have lost ace Adam Wainwright for the season, but Carlos Martinez appears very capable of picking up the slack.
Martinez seeks to continue his impressive start Wednesday night when the Cardinals face the visiting Philadelphia Phillies.
Wainwright is out for the season with a torn left Achilles suffered in Saturday’s 5-3 win at Milwaukee and St. Louis (13-6) lost its following two games before beating Philadelphia 11-5 on Tuesday.
Giving the ball to Martinez (2-0, 1.35 ERA) should increase the Cardinals’ chances at leveling their record without the three-time All-Star. The right-hander was used almost exclusively out of the bullpen over the past two seasons, posting a combined 4.28 ERA.
It didn’t take long for him to settle into his new role after being named the fifth starter during spring training. All three of his starts have ended in Cardinals victories and he’s completed six innings each time.
Martinez is coming off his best performance yet, allowing four hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings of a 3-0 win at Milwaukee on Friday.
"He can be pretty special," catcher Yadier Molina told MLB’s official website. "He’s getting aggressive, attacking the hitter, putting away with that slider and changeup. He’s doing well so far."
Martinez earned a 5-3 win in his only career start against the Phillies (8-13) on June 22, but he allowed three runs with five strikeouts in five innings. His three other matchups have come in relief, tossing one scoreless inning in each.
After his team totaled four runs in consecutive losses, Cardinals manager Mike Matheny shuffled his lineup Tuesday. He dropped Matt Carpenter from the leadoff spot to second and the third baseman responded with an RBI double, a triple and two runs. He’s batting .380 with 17 runs on the season.
St. Louis set season highs in runs and hits (15) and went 8 for 15 with runners in scoring position after going 4 for 32 in the previous four games.
"It’s hard to argue with the team’s 15 hits and 11 runs," said Jason Heyward, who went 1 for 2 with two runs and three walks while dropping from second to sixth in the order. "Our lineup’s flexible and that’s what is awesome about it."
The Phillies (8-13) aim to avoid an eighth loss in 10 road games behind Aaron Harang (2-1, 1.37), who is 0-6 with a 3.51 ERA in his last eight starts against the Cardinals since last beating them in May 2009.
The right-hander has completed at least six innings in each of his four starts and held opponents to a .164 average.
He had his best outing of the season Friday, tossing two-hit ball over eight innings with six strikeouts in a 1-0 home win over Atlanta.
"It was the same thing last year," Harang told MLB’s official website, alluding to his 3-1 record and 0.85 ERA in his first five starts with the Braves in 2014. "If you work fast in the count and try to get their guys to hit the ball early in the count, it’s going to keep the defense on their toes. I’m trying to get us off the field and back to the dugout to get the offense going."
Cardinals shortstop Jhonny Peralta is 10 for 30 with two homers and three doubles against Harang.