(BaseballStL) -- Carlos Martinez will see a familiar face behind the plate as he makes his first major league start in St. Louis Thursday.
The 21-year-old flamethrower is up from AAA for the third time this year, and Rob Johnson will catch him for his debut as a starter.
Johnson was Martinez's game caller in Memphis, and as such, got the nod for the final game of the series against the Dodgers.
"We are going to stick to our game plan whatever we did in Memphis," Johnson told me in the clubhouse. Martinez's game plan has paid off in AAA, as he has a 4-2 record and an ERA of 1.76 in ten games. He's also fanned 45, but his 25 walks have made control a concern.
"There's outings where he got a little bit out of control trying to do too much," said Johnson.
While the veteran catcher will work on keeping Martinez calm, manager Mike Matheny said the staff has stressed sticking with what works.
"More than anything else, we want Carlos to just be Carlos. Not focus as much on the Dodgers as much as what his strengths are," he said. "Rob has a good idea how he goes about using his stuff, not just one time through the lineup."
Johnson will have one more pitch to work with Thursday for Martinez's first start. The young pitcher has developed and deployed a slider for his time in the majors, something that his catcher says is a new twist.
"He doesn't throw a slider in the minor leagues. I think he did this last time, but previously in the season he hasn't thrown a slider," Johnson said. "So that will be a new pitch. But I'm even confident with both fastballs his curveball and his change up."
Martinez will look to add to the list of successful rookie starts this year, as three players have debuted already in 2013, with two of them pulling in a win their first time out.
He certainly has the talent, and from all accounts his biggest hurdle will be himself. Something Johnson says, if conquered, could pave the way for a tremendous first MLB start.
"Man, when he tones it down and he's really focused out there he's as good as anybody else I've caught."