New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz is his own worst enemy
By Tim Boyle
Opposing batters have figured out New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz and his weaknesses continue to grow. The southpaw is his own worst enemy.
Steven Matz may never develop into the starting pitcher the New York Mets hoped he would. Through 21 starts in 2018, the 27-year-old lefty is 5-9 with a 4.35 ERA. I wouldn’t look too deep into the winning percentage. Even Jacob deGrom isn’t winning despite pitching Cy Young worthy baseball.
With Matz, though, there are other issues. I’m beginning to believe opposing teams have figured him out.
Let’s take his entire career into consideration. The first six starts he made in 2015 ended with a 4-0 record and 2.27 ERA. His control was sharp and his strikeouts numbers were good.
When Matz returned for 22 starts in 2016, the results weren’t as tremendous yet still promising. He finished his official rookie campaign with a 9-8 record and 3.40 ERA. Again, he had a good walk and strikeout ratio.
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His career took a nosedive in 2017. Was it all injury-related?
Matz’s third season included only 13 starts. Through them, we saw him go 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA. His strikeout numbers declined and he began serving up a lot more home runs.
We’ve seen a lot of the same from Matz lately in 2018. Before landing on the disabled list, he was rocked by the Washington Nationals. Now, his numbers look a whole lot worse than they did a month ago. He’s having yet another below-average year in what has been an underwhelming career.
I know we should “give him time” or blame it on a bad arm. How long can we make excuses for him, though? He’s no longer a kid. Matz is a veteran who has failed to adjust.
When a player, specifically a pitcher, starts off hot and cools off within four seasons, one major culprit could be a failure to grow. Matz’s first two seasons may have been better because of how unfamiliar hitters were with him. Now that they’ve seen him a lot more often, they know what to look for.
This is an assumption on my part. The good thing is, if true, there’s hope Matz can turn things around. All he needs to do is learn from his mistakes and find new ways to get outs.
Walks have killed Matz this year. His rate of 3.4 per nine is a career-worst. Because he is also getting knocked around for home runs often, his ERA is blowing up.
In addition to all of these woes, Matz has hit 8 batters in 2018. He had only 9 in his career coming into the season. Control seems to be an issue for him. As a result, batters are meeting first base without needing a bat.
The season hasn’t been a total bust for Matz. There have been positives along this rocky year.
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The worst thing is that he doesn’t have the ability to fight through an entire schedule. Now in his fourth year, he’s a partial-season pitcher. Guys like this are impossible to rely on.