Everyone had forgotten about J.D. Martin until he took the mound for the Washington Nationals this past weekend. With Scott Olsen’s arm still sore, Martin was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse to fill in against the San Diego Padres.


Though he took the loss, he pitched well, allowing just four hits and one earned run in six innings, striking out five while walking none.


Martin has nothing left to prove in the minor leagues. In the past two seasons—both with the Chiefs—Martin has a fine record of 10-4 with a 2.77 ERA, allowing just 7.6 hits and 1.2 walks per nine-innings while striking out 6.2.


I still believe that Martin will one day become a permanent fixture in the Nationals’ rotation, a John Lannan clone.


And there is nothing wrong with having two John Lannan’s in the rotation.


An 11th-round afterthought in 2005, Lannan climbed the minor league ladder quickly, going a combined 12-3, 2.87 before finishing the season with the Nationals where the 22-year-old went 2-2, 4.15.


Since then, Lannan has won 20 games and been the team’s presumptive ace.


If the Nationals could find just one more pitcher to come out of nowhere, the team’s future would seem far more secure than in past seasons.


And Martin just seems to be the logical choice to do just that.


It’s not that Martin wasn’t a known commodity in the baseball world. The Cleveland Indians chose the high school pitcher in the first round of the 2001 amateur draft, using their compensation pick for the departed Manny Ramirez .


Martin had tremendous control and a good fastball with movement when he began his minor league career. In his first two seasons in the Indians organization, he went a combined 19-6, 3.17, allowing 2.5 walks per nine innings while striking out 11.


He was dominant.


However, his strikeouts all but disappeared in 2004 as he toughed through an 11-10, 4.39 season in the Class-A Carolina League. His strikeouts per nine innings dropped to six and his arm felt sore towards the end of the season.


There were signs of an arm injury, but it was hoped that an offseason of rest would help Martin regain both his strength and his fastball.


And it seemed to work. Martin was 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA and was again striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings through 10 games in the 2005 season . However, the sore arm returned and he was forced to undergo reconstructive “Tommy John” surgery that July.


He returned late in 2006, and over the next three years crafted a combined record of 15-8, 3.31, with 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings.


However, in 2008, his last year with the Indians, he was primarily a reliever; the team didn’t feel he was good enough—or strong enough—to be a starter any more.


Believing that he could still be an effective starter, Martin left the Indians as a six-year minor league free agent and looked for a major league franchise with pitching woes and therefore a quick path to the big leagues.


His first call was to the Washington Nationals.


He quickly became the team’s premier minor league pitcher, going 8-3, 2.66 in 15 starts with Triple-A Syracuse in 2009.


But he was not the same pitcher anymore. Martin began pitching to contact and threw strikes, lots of them. With Syracuse, he struck out six per nine innings while walking just one, an amazing walk to strikeout ratio at any level.


In nine minor league seasons, Martin had compiled an outstanding record of 56-28 with a 3.29 ERA and yet he’d never had the opportunity to pitch in a major league game.


That changed, however, when the Nationals Scott Olsen was lost for the season with an arm injury and the team desperately needed a fill-in arm.


Enter J.D. Martin.


In 15 starts with Washington in 2009, Martin went 5-4 with a 4.44 ERA.


He showed he had the ability, the tenacity, and the desire to succeed at the major league level. He didn’t do any one thing particularly well, yet by the time he walked off the mound, he more often than not had his team in a position to win.


But let’s look at his internal numbers and compare then with the aforementioned Lannan, the Nationals best starter over the past two seasons.


Hits per 9 innings:

Lannan: 9.2

Martin: 9.9


Homers allowed per 9 innings:

Lannan: 1.0

Martin: 1.6


Walks per 9 innings:

Lannan: 3.0

Martin: 2.8


Strikeouts per 9 innings:

Lannan: 3.9

Martin: 4.3


Baserunners per 9 innings:

Lannan: 1.35

Martin: 1.42


In virtually every category of statistical significance, the two were nearly identical. It would seem that the Nationals have indeed found their second out-of-the-blue starting pitcher.


But the news just gets better, just as Martin did as the season progressed.


In his first four starts, Martin gave up 13 runs, 24 hits, and five walks in just 16 innings. Since then, however, he might have been the best pitcher in the rotation. Take a look at Martins numbers compared to Lannan’s in their last 11 starts of 2009:


Innings Pitched:

Martin: 60

Lannan: 63



Martin: 3.71

Lannan: 4.95


Hits per nine innings:

Martin: 10.1

Lannan: 10.2


Walks per nine innings:

Martin: 3.0

Lannan: 2.6


Strikeouts per nine innings:

Martin: 2.1

Lannan: 2.0


Batting average-against:

Martin: .264

Lannan: .263


On-base percentage allowed:

Martin: .330

Lannan: .332


Slugging percentage allowed:

Martin: .455

Lannan: .437


Percentage of pitches that were strikes:

Martin: 63%

Lannan: 63%


Line drives allowed:

Martin: 17%

Lannan: 25%


Team record in starts:

Martin: 8-3

Lannan: 4-7


Once Martin gained some experience at the major league level, he was able to match Lannan pitch-for-pitch over the last third of the season. So what’s the difference between team “ace” John Lannan and Martin?


About 55 career starts. In other words, experience.


He wasn’t given much of a chance in spring training, pitching far less innings than his competition (Craig Stammen pitched 19.2 innings, Martin just 10). It was obvious he was heading to Syracuse.


But just like last year, an injury to Scott Olsen gave Martin a chance in 2010, and he took advantage of it. Initial reports from the Nationals indicate that Martin will start at least one more game for the injured Olsen.


If he pitches well again, Martin might remain with the Nationals for a while longer.


Most of us have scoffed at former general manager Jim Bowden’s penchant for signing minor league pitchers off the scrap heap. It just never seemed to work.


This time, however, Bowden was right.


J. D. Martin might not be a sexy option for the team’s rotation, but he’s still young, gets major league batters out, and is at worst a solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher.


Here’s hoping, anyway.


Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com