Steven Matz, who battled through years of injuries after being drafted by the Mets in 2009, has persevered and is now in position to make his major league debut in 2015 and make an impact.
Matz first opened eyes in the Mets minors in 2012, posting a 1.55 ERA and striking out 10.55 batters per 9 in 29 innings pitched, but that was for Rookie-level Kingsport.
In 2013, Matz kept it going in an age-appropriate league, with a 2.62 ERA and 10.24 strikeouts per 9 in Low-A Savannah.
This season, Matz took it to another level, tearing through High-A St. Lucie (2.21 ERA in 69.1 innings pitched) before finishing with a flourish in Double-A Binghamton (2.27 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched).
The 23-year-old Matz, who features a mid-90s fastball that can reach 98 MPH, a curve, and a developing change, saved his best for last.
Friday night, he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning for Binghamton in their Eastern League Title clinching victory over Richmond. In 7.1 innings of work, Matz gave up 1 run on 2 hits, walked 2 and struck out 11.
Barring some odd decision making by the Mets, Matz will open the 2015 season with Triple-A Las Vegas, just a phone call away from the majors.
As Matz has matured and gotten more reps, his control – an early worry for many evaluators – has gotten better each step along the way. In the four levels he’s pitched at, Matz’ walks per 9 has improved from 5.28 to 3.22 to 2.73 to 1.77.
Keith Law of ESPN, who until recently thought Matz’ delivery and control may force him to the bullpen, now believes strongly in Matz’ future as a starter.
Most evaluators view Matz as a potential mid-rotation starter, with the ceiling of a number two starter. However, if Matz continues to refine his secondary pitchers while keeping his control in check, his ceiling is arguably higher. Lefties who can touch the high-90s and feature plus secondary offerings are few and far between.
For now, Matz will rest up and prepare for 2015 – a year when he should make his mark in the majors.