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Seth Martinez

Reliever Seth Martinez finds key role in Astros bullpen

Seth Martinez benefits from different pitching mindset

HOUSTON – Seth Martinez watched closely as his dad coached their local high school team. He analyzed the batting stances and how the high schoolers fielded the ball. 

The Peoria, Ariz., native imitated the baseball moves he saw from the players his dad coached. He pitched and hit an imaginary ball in his bedroom.

The baseball moves he executed in his room soon turned real. Martinez made the high school baseball team as a sophomore and was a three-year letterman. Playing travel ball gave him an advantage on the diamond. His parents Bobby and Kelly Martinez worked double shifts to help pay the expenses he and his sister amassed. 

The Arizona State alum played in Perfect Game tournaments in Florida and Georgia. The majority of the tournaments were paid for by his parents. However, in high school Martinez joined a fully funded elite travel ball team. 

Experience helps

Mike Literman, who owned a furniture business in New York, funded the New York based baseball team to give athletes the needed experience to succeed in the majors. 

“His whole focus was to teach us how it’s going to be once you get to pro ball,” Martinez said of Literman. “It was pretty similar. We stayed at hotels and had laundry loops. He was very strict with scheduling and timing. I think playing for this team and in those tournaments against all those good players kind of showed me what it takes to get here.”

Martinez, 29, has relied on that early experience and altered his mindset to settle into the Astros’ bullpen. The 6-foot-2 relief pitcher was drafted in the 17th round in the 2016 MLB Draft by the Oakland A’s. The Astros acquired the hard-throwing right-hander in the Rule 5 draft in 2020. He made his debut a year later. 


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After a great first impression during the Astros World Series run, Martinez struggled in 2023. He made 35 appearances with Houston and had a 5.23 ERA. He faltered pitching at home and against left-handed hitters and lacked a putaway pitch. 

A much more relaxed Martinez has been a reliable asset for rookie manager Joe Espada in the bullpen this season. Closing in on a career high in innings pitched, he has a 2.17 ERA, 21 strikeouts and a save. 

Seth Martinez improves mental approach 

For Martinez, the effectiveness of his pitching stems from conversations with teammates. He’s grateful for advice from two-time All-Star Ryan Pressly and former Astros Ryne Stanek and Phil Maton. 

The theme of their conversations was to trust his pitching ability and ignore the negative results.

“I think the biggest change has been the mental approach,” Martinez said of his recent success. “I’m trying not to take this sport/job too seriously. You can definitely get into a hole if you take it like the most important thing in your life. At the end of the day it’s just baseball. There is way more to life than just baseball.

“I think it’s helped my confidence too. Obviously when you are doing well, its easy to have good confidence. But yeah I think not thinking about results too much and as they say just trusting the process.” 

Seth Martinez has thrown six scoreless outings of more than two innings, which leads the Astros. He has stranded 14 of the 16 runners he’s inherited this season. Last year he broke Houston’s single-season record by stranding all 17 inherited runners. 

His much improved fastball and sweeper come at a perfect time for the Astros, who lost three relief pitchers in free agency and have faced numerous injuries. 

‘Definitely growing’

“He’s definitely growing as a player,” Pressly said of Martinez. “When you first get into the big leagues you try to establish yourself. And being a bullpen guy it’s kind of hard to do that. I think he is slowly and surely trying to do that.

“I think he was really good at getting right-handed hitters out last year, and this year he’s done it on both sides of the plate. He’s starting to put it all together. So I think he is coming around pretty well. Sometimes it just takes some guys a little longer than others, but he’s definitely taking a stride this year as you can see.”

Martinez has been a bright spot for the inconsistent Astros this season. The Astros will need Martinez to continue this prolific run to get back in contention.

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