2015 Arch Awards: What was the Best Storyline in St. Louis Sports During 2015?

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Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Carlos Martinez Pays Tribute to Oscar Taveras in Career Year

Carlos Martinez’s life was changed forever on October 26, 2014, when his best friend in the Cardinals organization, rookie outfielder Oscar Taveras, was killed along with his girlfriend in a drunk driving accident in the Dominican Republic. Martinez was crushed, immediately expressing his devastation via Twitter, and days later he was overcome with emotion at Taveras’s funeral to the point where he needed to be restrained by members of the crowd.

After a few weeks had passed and Martinez had time to collect his thoughts, he announced that he would begin wearing Taveras’s number 18 and dedicate his 2015 season to his fallen friend. It was certainly an interesting development, considering that Martinez had largely failed to live up to his larger-than-life prospect status through his first two seasons, starting just eight of his first 78 MLB games while throwing for a 4.28 ERA. It was somewhat of a make-or-break season for Martinez, and Cardinals fans wondered whether the emotions caused by Martinez’s loss of a close friend would make him hungrier or rattle him on the mound.

After winning a rotation spot out of spring training, Martinez quickly showed that he belonged in the Cardinals’ starting five. After Adam Wainwright went down with an injury in late April, Martinez combined with Michael Wacha to become one of the new aces of the Cardinals’ rotation. After going 10-3 with a 2.52 ERA and .226 opponent batting average in 17 starts prior to the break, Martinez was named to his first All-Star team as a 23-year-old. He fatigued a bit near the end of the season and ended up missing the last couple weeks of the regular season and the postseason with a shoulder strain, but overall Martinez had a fantastic first full season as a starter, going 14-7 with a 3.01 ERA and .250 OBA. He had 184 strikeouts and 63 walks over 179.2 innings.

Not only did Martinez come into his own as a pitcher, but he became one of the biggest faces of the Cardinals’ 2015 team, quickly developing into a fan favorite because of his prominent displays of emotion on the mound and his playful celebrations in the dugout, which often included running up to hitters who had just hit a home run with a cup of water.

The growth in Martinez both on and off the mound may or may not have been related to Taveras’s death, but “Tsunamy” certainly made his fallen friend proud with his brilliant 2015 campaign.

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