Major League Baseball has announced that right-handed pitcher Carlos Martinez has been given an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Ibutamoren, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
This is yet another setback in what has been a very difficult few years for Martinez, despite an encouraging start to his career. From his 2013 debut as a 21-year-old through the 2019 campaign, he appeared in 253 games for the Cardinals, including 118 starts, logging 864 2/3 innings. In that time, he had a 3.36 ERA, 23.4% strikeout rate, 9% walk rate and 53.1% ground ball rate, producing 14.6 wins above replacement, according to FanGraphs.
Unfortunately, injuries started to wear on him in recent campaigns. Though he was still effective in 2019, he had been bumped from the rotation to a bullpen role due to injury concerns. In 2020, he missed a bunch of time due to a bout with COVID-19 and an oblique strain, ending up with a 9.90 ERA in 20 innings for the campaign. Last year, he returned to the rotation, making 16 starts, but struggled to a 6.23 ERA over 82 1/3 innings, along with a tepid 15.7% strikeout rate. A torn ligament in his pitching hand required surgery that ultimately ended his season, as he last pitched in the big leagues on July 4 last year.
The Cardinals signed him to a five-year extension in February of 2017, while he was in the midst of the high point of his career. That came with club options for 2022 and 2023, though the Cards ending up declining to pick up the option for this year on the heels of those rough campaigns. Martinez latched on with the Giants via a minor league deal in March, though he was released at the end of April and signed another minors pact, this time with the Red Sox. He made just two starts for Triple-A Worcester but was bombed to the tune of 10 earned runs in 4 1/3 innings before getting released again.