Russell Martin served as a catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers for six seasons, but he also proved to be a sneaky good reliever.
Russell Martin polka-dotted his name on the record books in 2019, but not for the reasons you would expect.
The former Dodgers catcher, who has appeared in four All-Star games, and won both the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards in 2007, proved he could also pitch last season.
It all started in a March game against the Diamondbacks, when both teams decided to use positional players on the mound after their respective bullpens were worn out from a 13-inning affair the previous night. The Dodgers had an 18-5 lead, so following in Arizona manager Torey Lovullo‘s footsteps of using catcher John Ryan Murphy to pitch the 7th, David Roberts called on Martin to close out the game in the 9th.
While Murphy surrendered seven earned runs over two innings, Martin was ready for the task. He retired the side in order, throwing only ten pitches, eight for strikes, looking like Mariano Rivera on the hill. He became the first full-time position player to work a 1-2-3 ninth inning in a team win since 1925, according to MLB Stats.
While Martin forgot to congratulate his catcher after retiring the final out, he otherwise looked the part in his first relief appearance.
87 days later, he was back at it again. This time in a game the Diamondbacks were leading 8-2. Martin entered in the 8th inning and pitched another 1-2-3 inning, striking out Christian Walker with 90 MPH gas.
Martin needed only eight pitches to retire the Diamondbacks in this frame, having used a total of 18 pitches to record six outs over two perfect outings of relief.
The flame-throwing catcher was ready for a new challenge besides the Arizona lineup, appearing in a 15-1 blowout against the Miami Marlins in August. He finally allowed a hit, but quickly erased the base-runner by inducing a classic 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and secure the win for the Dodgers.
Continuing his scoreless streak, only 56 innings short of Orel Hershiser‘s record, he took the mound one last time in late August against the San Diego Padres to put an exclamation mark on a 9-0 Dodgers win.
Once again, he kept his opponent scoreless, becoming the first positional player to pitch in a shutout win for his team since October 3, 1917.
Four appearances, four scoreless innings, two strikeouts, only two hits allowed. Sign this man up for the bullpen!
Martin is currently still looking for a team in 2020, as the entire league is on pause due to the coronavirus. The catcher has received interest from some teams, such as the Athletics and Mets, but a personal matter has delayed his decision on where to play.