The Dodgers got exactly what they wanted in Chris Martin, the best of the two major league additions they made at the trade deadline in 2022.
The right-handed reliever was acquired from the Cubs on July 30 in exchange for utility man Zach McKinstry, and ended up one of a handful of trusted, high-leverage relievers for the Dodgers down the stretch.
Martin pounded the zone with the Dodgers, throwing 75 percent of his pitches for strikes. He didn’t walk anyone at all in his first 20 games with Los Angeles. Dating back to his time with the Cubs, Martin struck out 44 batters in between walks, spanning over three months.
In all with the Dodgers he struck out 34 and walked only one in 24⅔ innings. In Dodgers history, Martin’s 34 strikeouts are the most in a season by any pitcher with zero or one walk. Second place is Ryan Madson’s 13 strikeouts in 2018.
Living within the strike zone has been Martin’s game since returning to MLB after pitching in Japan in 2016-17. In the last five seasons, Martin’s 2.8-percent walk rate is best among major league pitchers with at least 150 innings. In that time he has 24 total walks in 214⅔ innings, to go with 229 strikeouts.
So many strikes can lead to home runs, and you might remember Martin as the Braves pitcher who served up Cody Bellinger’s pennant-winning home run in Game 7 the 2020 NLCS. This year with the Cubs, he allowed five home runs in his 34 games, which inflated his 4.31 ERA. But with the Dodgers, Martin allowed only one home run and had a 1.46 ERA. His 1.13 FIP with Los Angeles ranked fourth in the majors.
Martin pitched scoreless innings in each of his two playoff appearances, earning the save in Game 1 of the NLDS against the Padres, and working around two singles to keep the Padres scoreless in the sixth inning of Game 4.
Stats: 1.46 ERA, 1.13 FIP, 2.55 xERA, 24⅔ IP, 34 K, 1 BB with Dodgers
Salary: $2.5 million, $920,330 of which the Dodgers were responsible. Martin also earned an extra $500,000 for pitching in 60 games, but it’s unclear what portion of that was paid by the Dodgers.
Game of the year
On August 29 against the Marlins, the Dodgers were trying to finish out a four-game series in Miami. Craig Kimbrel, who was in the midst of his best stretch of the year and pitched a scoreless ninth inning, was called on to pitch the 10th, and it did not go well. Kimbrel walked two of his three batters faced, loading the bases with one out and the Dodgers clinging to a one-run lead.
Enter Chris Martin, who struck out Garrett Cooper on three pitches, then won a seven-pitch battle getting Jacob Stallings to pop out into foul territory. Martin escaped, earning his first save of the season.
Martin’s .535 win probability added is the highest by any Dodgers pitcher in a game in 2022.
Martin will be a free agent after the end of the World Series.