Frank Viola says Steven Matz has big-game potential

By Danny Abriano

Steven Matz, 23, who is poised to make his big league debut this coming season, has a fan in Triple-A Las Vegas pitching coach Frank Viola.

During an interview with the Daily News, Viola, the former Mets and Twins pitcher who has a Cy Young award and World Series MVP award under his belt, had the following to say about Matz:

"He’s definitely a kid who wants the ball in the big game. I’m not saying he’s going to be [Madison] Bumgarner, but I will say that if you give him the chance in those types of situations, he’s going to shine."

Viola continued:

"He’s come so far so fast. From a kid who was petrified that every pitch was going to be his last, back when he was rehabbing from Tommy John, to a pitcher with great stuff and a real idea about how to get hitters out."

Last month at the Queens Baseball Convention, Triple-A manager Wally Backman said Matz was the best pitching prospect the Mets have, while noting that Noah Syndergaard has the stuff to win a Cy Young award.


When mentioning the name of Madison Bumgarner, Viola is clearly alluding to Steven Matz’ ability to rise to the occasion. Matz took a no-hitter into the eighth inning as he helped lead Double-A Binghamton to the Eastern League title last season.

Last spring, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen compared Matz to Clayton Kershaw, which seemed a bit outrageous. However, Warthen was referring to how the ball came out of Matz’ hand more than he was making an overall comparison.

Yes, the Mets are hyping their guys, but the comparisons are specific in nature to a certain element of the pitchers Matz is being compared to, and are being both blown out of proportion and taken out of context by many.

For those worried that such comparisons might negatively impact Matz, all you need to do is take a look at his performance from last season, when he tore through two levels of the minors after Warthen made his Kershaw “comparison.”

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