Reds pitcher Nick Martinez has solidified his role following dominant outing vs. Cubs

The Reds are better off with Nick Martinez in the bullpen.
Los Angeles Dodgers v Cincinnati Reds
Los Angeles Dodgers v Cincinnati Reds / Brandon Sloter/GettyImages
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When the Cincinnati Reds signed Nick Martinez to a two-year deal back in late November, they were expecting a strong rotation arm with the capability to shift to a bullpen role if necessary. Martinez was coming off a season with the San Diego Padres in which he posted a 3.43 ERA in 110.1 innings, including nine starts.

Unfortunately, Martinez's success as a starter hasn't translated well to Cincinnati. In five starts, the righty has pitched to a 7.36 ERA, allowing 23 runs in 25.2 innings. Much of that is him getting shelled the second and third times through the order.

Martinez has a 1.59 ERA when facing batters for the first time in a start. Those numbers jump to 8.31 the second time, and 17.47 the third time. In his eight relief outings however; Martinez has pitched to an 0.76 ERA. That difference is massive, and it's going to force Reds manager David Bell to make a decision about Martinez's future in Cincinnati.

The Reds should use Nick Martinez exclusively out of the bullpen moving forward

Now that Nick Lodolo is back from his latest IL trip, the Reds have a solid top five in the rotation — not to mention Brandon Williamson at Triple-A. That gives the team the opportunity to leave Martinez in the bullpen, where he benefits the team the most.

That idea was evident in Martinez's most recent outing over the weekend. In Sunday's matchup against the Chicago Cubs, the righty came in and threw two scoreless innings, notching three strikeouts and allowing just one hit and no walks. Martinez has allowed just one combined run in his last six relief appearances, which includes two outings against the Dodgers and one against the Orioles.

His performance over the last six weeks should solidify his role with the Reds moving forward. Barring any further injuries to the pitching staff, Martinez should be a strong multi-inning relief option for Bell and the Reds.

If the Reds get desperate, they'd be better served to use an opener and have Martinez throw a chunk of innings as a follower rather than rely on him to get 5-plus innings in a traditional start.

With a number of top prospects approaching the majors, the need to use Martinez as a starter should dissipate before the end of his contract. He's a bit expensive for a reliever but if he's able to keep up his current level of performance, the deal will end up being a win for the Reds anyway.

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