Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history, strolling into Cooperstown as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2015 with 3,154 career strikeouts, a 2.93 career ERA, and three Cy Young awards. Martinez was absolutely dominant on the mound over his years in Montreal and then, particularly, as the ace of the Boston Red Sox, including the 2004 World Series winning squad.
Martinez had a powerful fastball, but his ability to mix in a lethal changeup to keep hitters off balance was the reason for his success. However, until Thursday, we didn’t know just how much he toyed with batters and opposing teams with that ability to change speeds.
On the MLB Network’s broadcast on Thursday night, Martinez showed CC Sabathia, Chris Young, and Stephen Nelson how whenever a runner was on second base, he would show them a fastball grip in his glove, knowing they’d be trying to signal to the batter, and then as he was beginning his motion, he’d switch to the changeup, and, in his words, “you dead meat.”
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) August 27, 2021
Sabathia seemed to know this trick from others, but Young in particular had his mind blown, noting he was always looking at pitchers when he was on second and never saw anyone pull this off. It takes a special ability to make that grip change so late and be able to throw it how you want and where you want, but then again, Martinez is one of the most talented pitchers in baseball history so it shouldn’t come as a shocker that he was one of the few who could pull this off.
It is also a reminder that, for every perceived advantage, the greats will find a counter, as Martinez took advantage of having a runner on second trying to relay signals to home by flipping the script to even further dupe unsuspecting hitters into lunging out in front of a changeup.