Ethan Martin continued his run as one of the season’s biggest turnaround stories with another strong outing for Double-A Chattanooga on Monday. The Dodgers righthander dropped his ERA to 2.96 with five scoreless innings against Huntsville, allowing just two hits.
That Martin possesses swing-and-miss stuff hasn’t been the question, as his 9.40 strikeouts per nine rate attests. But the last two years in the high Class A California League were tough on Martin. He struggled with repeating his mechanics and his command faltered, resulting in too many walks and hittable pitches. He posted a 6.68 ERA over two years in high Class A before the Dodgers rescued him from the Cal League with a promotion to Chattanooga and move to the bullpen last June.
This season has been a different story for the 22-year-old, the Dodgers‘ 2008 first-round pick. The move to the bullpen last year was just temporary, and he’s gotten off to a 5-0, 2.96 start for the Lookouts. He reeled off a stretch of five straight quality starts from April 16-May 10. In 31 Cal League starts over the last two years, he made just eight quality starts out of 31, and only once did he make two consecutively.
Walks have continued to be an issue. He had four more on Monday to go with five strikeouts, but he’s improved considerably from where he was. His 4.44 walks per nine rate this year is the best of his career, and it’s partly inflated by his April 11 outing when he walked seven in four innings. Monday was his first start since April 16 in which he walked more than two in a game. Entering Monday’s games, Martin ranked fourth in the Southern League in opponents’ average (.196) and was making life especially tough for righthanded hitters, whom he was holding to a .126/.283/.195 line in 87 at-bats.