HOUSTON -- Down by three runs may not have been the perfect scenario, but the Astros -- and their worn-thin bullpen -- were all but desperate for an arm to go longer than a standard reliever. So they leaned on Francis Martes, a 21-year-old rookie making his Major League debut
HOUSTON -- Down by three runs may not have been the perfect scenario, but the Astros -- and their worn-thin bullpen -- were all but desperate for an arm to go longer than a standard reliever. So they leaned on Francis Martes, a 21-year-old rookie making his Major League debut as the youngest American League pitcher to appear in a game this season.
Martes, ranked as the club's No. 1 prospect by MLBPipeline.com, lasted through 78 pitches from the fifth until the eighth inning, struck out two, walked two, and allowed four hits and four earned runs in Friday night's 9-4 loss to the Angels.
"I think he flashed his good stuff. He was very anxious," manager A.J. Hinch said. "I felt like he was a little quick tonight. He was working fast, the delivery was fast, his tempo was fast. Everything about tonight will be a blur for him just being his debut. But I like the arm strength. I think he threw some pretty good changeups, he threw a couple breaking balls that were good.
"A guy in his early 20s trying to find his way and find his niche, and racing through the Minor Leagues to get to this level at his age, and to control his emotions and flash his good stuff, he's a very promising prospect."
Astros starter Brad Peacock struggled with command early, logging three innings and giving up four earned runs on a season-high seven hits. James Hoyt subsequently tacked on another run in one inning of relief in the fourth, putting a pitching staff, which has three starters on the disabled list, in another exhausting situation trailing 5-2 into the fifth inning.
In came Martes, who had one job on Friday and he knew it: Soak up as many pitches and innings as necessary.
"To be out on there for the first time was good," Martes said. "The plan was for me to go out there and save the bullpen. Go three or four innings, and that's what I did. So that will give me a lot of confidence for my next time I go out there."
"That's obviously what his role is going to be," Hinch said.
Martes is the youngest Astros pitcher to make his debut since Jordan Lyles (20 years old) on May 31, 2011, and the youngest AL pitcher to make his MLB debut since Yankees right-hander Luis Severino on Aug. 5, 2015, at 21.
Christian Boutwell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Houston.