Baseball Hall of Famer and retired Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez

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Pedro Martinez explains World Series hangover is real for Chris Sale, Red Sox pitchers

Nick Friar
April 12, 2019 - 7:53 am

The Red Sox are 13 games into the 2019 season and the only pitchers with wins are Brian Johnson, Matt Barnes and Marcus Walden, who earned his second win Thursday. The common denominator: none of them are in the Red Sox starting rotation.

But wins are for cavemen, right?

How about ERA? Does that matter still? If so, how does an 8.79 starting rotation ERA sound?

Then there’s opponents’ average against (.329), walks per nine innings (4.63) and innings per start (just over 4 1/3). If you don’t get the point by now here it is plainly: the starters haven’t been good.

David Price has been the closest thing to consistent (six innings and four runs in both starts), but he fell prey to the big inning in his last outing — right after the Red Sox gave him a three-run lead.

Chris Sale has the team’s lone quality start, but he hasn’t been himself at all.

So what’s the problem?

Was it the spring training prep?

Maybe. But it worked well last season. Why would it take a complete 180 the following year?

Have opposing hitters completely figured out each Red Sox starter?

It’d be remarkable if that were the case.

Now, there’s the already tired narrative of the World Series hangover. It’s something that can supposedly impact everyone on the roster, but the starting rotation is really the only group that hasn’t carried its own weight to this point.

Is the World Series hangover really a thing?

Pedro Martinez thinks so. Actually, he knows so because he experienced it.

However, Martinez’s hangover season, his first year with the Mets in 2005, went well. He was a National League All-Star and finished with a 2.82 ERA and tossed 217 innings.

Clearly, Martinez figured something out. But he told it wasn’t all that simple.

“My biggest deal was (learning) how to pace myself through a new season where I was still feeling like I could pitch in spring training or that I could just go into a game, (then) having to hold myself from that feeling,” he said. “When you feel good and you feel like you can pitch and then you have to hold yourself back and lose the feel for pitching, lose the feeling for (the sake of) your physical well-being and hold it back, and then kind of get out of shape after you’re in shape and then getting started again is the most difficult thing to do. For them, it’s no exception.”

Alex Cora and the Red Sox have talked quite a bit about pitchers pacing themselves, particularly when it comes to Sale. Although things have been rough early, Martinez believes this is a necessary adjustment.

“Even though right now the struggles might frustrate you a little bit, I think it’s going to pay off in the long run,” Martinez said. “I think they’re going to be able to finally realize that everybody needs a little bit of rest and a little bit of pacing (for) your body, mentally, physically, and naturally, on the bump. You have to pace yourself. It’s really difficult to do with the spirit that we have (as) competitors. Mentally, it’s a battle within you.”