In the eighth inning Friday night, fans at Chase Field settled into a rhythm: Watch Justin Martinez’s pitch, then look at the center-field scoreboard to see which mind-boggling number popped onto the screen.
Five times, that number read 102. To be more precise, Martinez threw five four-seam fastballs at 101.9, 101.8, 101.8, 101.6 and 101.5 mph.
They were the five fastest pitches thrown by a Diamondback since pitch-tracking data became available in 2008 — a mark set at 101.3 mph earlier this season by Carlos Vargas. The fastest pitch in MLB this year is 104.6 mph from the Twins’ Jhoan Duran.
The question of whether Martinez threw the five fastest pitches in Diamondbacks history is murkier. Randy Johnson is, of course, known as one of the hardest throwers in baseball history, but pitch velocity data from his heyday is unreliable. Video exists of the Big Unit hitting 101 mph, but not of him touching 102. A handful of random articles, including one from Bleacher Report in 2011, claim he hit 102 in a game in 2004, but none are accompanied by any evidence.
Whether Martinez’s pitches were the fastest in Diamondbacks history or the fastest by a Diamondback since Johnson, they showcased tantalizing stuff from a 21-year-old making his major league debut. He struck out two batters in his lone inning — one on the fastball, one on a wipeout splitter. Among his 29 pitches, Martinez threw 19 fastballs, seven splitters and three sliders.
“He started mixing in (off-speed pitches),” manager Torey Lovullo said. “He was unpredictable. And when you throw 100, you feel like you’re gonna see 100 on every pitch. That’s not the case with him. He does a good job of mixing it up.”
Martinez’s outing wasn’t all positive. He hit a batter, walked two more and allowed a single, ultimately letting two runs score in the inning.
That has long been the book on Martinez, who recovered quickly from Tommy John Surgery in 2021 to fly through the Diamondbacks’ minor league system last season. In Triple-A Reno this year, he struck out 41 batters in 31 innings, but also walked 28. He’s been better since April 16, pitching to a 0.34 ERA in 26 1/3 innings. Even over that span, though, he has walked 17.
Still, Lovullo was encouraged by Martinez’s outing Friday, in which case he showcased a talent not possessed by any of the Diamondbacks’ other relievers.
“I know that it’s not a great line score,” Lovullo said. “But for a first outing, I thought it was good.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Justin Martinez fastest pitches Diamondbacks’ history MLB debut
Source: Yahoo Sports