Pedro Martinez and the New HOFers Versus the Rays


The news broke yesterday that the Baseball Writers Association of America had elected Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio to the Hall of Fame. With little to talk about from the Winter Leagues last night, I thought it would be a good opportunity for something more fun–how the new Hall of Famers performed versus the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays had Randy Johnson’s number. That certainly wasn’t true in 1998, when he went 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA and a 30-4 strikeout to walk ratio in three starts and 24 innings against the D-Rays. The best of his outings was a complete-game seven-hitter on May 24, 1998 in which he struck out 15. However, the Rays roughed him up when they faced him in 2004 and then owned him when he joined the New York Yankees.

Johnson was already on the decline when he went to New York, but the Rays can be quite satisfied with how they did against him nonetheless. In seven starts between 2004 and 2005, they pummeled him to a 1-3 record and a 7.49 ERA. Just two of his outings were quality starts as the Yankees lost five of the seven games he pitched.  The D-Rays won 16 games against the Yankees in 2005 and 2006 and nearly a third of the games were Johnson’s starts.

Pedro Martinez, however, was an entirely different story. For his career, Martinez went 11-4 with a 1.99 ERA in 20 starts and 135.2 innings pitched against the Rays. The one “bump in the road” was 1999, when his ERA was just 3.60 against the D-Rays compared to 2.07 overall. Even in that year, however, he went at least seven innings in both his starts against them and never allowed more than three earned runs.

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Martinez had some insane starts against the D-Rays, but the craziest one was a loss. As we have previously discussed, Martinez struck out 17 in a six-hitter against the D-Rays on May 6, 2000, but managed to lose 1-0 on a Greg Vaughn RBI single in the eighth inning. Nevertheless, Martinez struck out 10 versus the D-Rays eight times as he tossed quality starts in 15 of his 20 starts against them and allowed more than three runs just twice.

John Smoltz only made three starts and a relief appearance against the D-Rays as he played all but eight games in his career in the National League. However, the Rays were a tough opponent for him when they did get the chance to face him. Smoltz’s first start against the Rays was fine as he allowed 3 runs on 7 hits in 6 innings on July 1, 1998. He also tossed 1.1 hitless relief innings for a save on June 29, 2003.

In his other two outings, though, Smoltz allowed 4 runs on 9 hits in 6 innings on June 7, 1999 and 2 runs in just 1.2 innings on June 23, 2006. Those two games were enough for Smoltz’s career ERA against the Rays to be 5.40. But in vintage Devil Rays fashion, the Atlanta Braves actually won all four of Smoltz’s games against the D-Rays. They tagged Dave Eiland for 7 runs in the June 7th game and got 4.1 scoreless relief innings from Oscar Villarreal in the June 23rd contest.

Finally, we come to Craig Biggio, whose only experience against the D-Rays was a three-game set at Minute Maid Park in June of 2003. Biggio started off the series well, going 1 for 3 with 2 walks and a run scored in the opener, but he went 0 for 3 with a walk in the second game and 0 for 4 in the third contest. One interesting quirk: Biggio played centerfield in all three games for the Houston Astros as he actually played all his games in center in 2003.

With Fred McGriff getting just 12.9% of the vote this year, it doesn’t look like the Tampa Bay Rays will have another Hall of Famer who played for them anytime soon. At least they can be amused by how well they did against Randy Johnson and John Smoltz while being among the crowd mystified by how good Pedro Martinez was for all those years in Boston.