Steven Matz is about to enter his fifth year as a member of the New York Mets. For better or worse, these are a few of the statistics of his worth watching.
New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz delivered a mixed year in 2018. When he was good, he looked like he could be a third starter in the rotation. When he was bad, even Jason Vargas felt the need to offer advice.
Matz ended the year with an underwhelming 5-11 record and a 3.97 ERA. When looking at his numbers, there are five things I want us all to pay attention to.
We learned from Jacob deGrom how little wins matter. deGrom mowed down everyone in 2018 and they were still hard to find. Matz also struggled to leave the ballpark victorious even when he pitched well.
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At home, Matz was only 1-6. The lone victory came on April 13 when he defeated the Milwaukee Brewers. It was his first win of the year and the only one at home all year long.
The most amazing thing; Matz had a much better ERA at home at 3.59. Even a 1.05 WHIP at Citi Field was not enough to help him drive home victorious more than once.
Second Half Finish
If we’re going to credit Zack Wheeler for a strong second half, we have to acknowledge how bad Matz was during this same stretch. The Mets’ southpaw went 1-4 in his final 12 starts while posting a 4.97 ERA.
Some of this is due to his horrendous start which resulted in a 25-4 beating at the hands of the Washington Nationals. Nevertheless, I’m curious to see if his rougher finish than start will carry over into 2019.
Thankfully, September was a solid month for him even if he made six starts and failed to earn a decision in any.
Going the Distance
Call me old-fashioned, but I want to see Matz go deeper into games. In 30 starts, he reached 7 complete innings four times. He didn’t go beyond the 21-outs recorded mark.
He’s not fully to blame for this. The Mets clearly handled him carefully. It took him until June before he reached a 100-pitch start. Thereafter, he did so consistently.
Noah Syndergaard recorded the first two complete games of his MLB career this past year. Now it’s time for Matz to add one to his resume.
Everything with Control
Matz had an interesting year when it came to control. He went all year without throwing a single wild pitch. However, he did hit ten batters. He entered the season with only nine hit batsmen.
With a respectable WHIP of 1.24, it’s odd to see him walk batters at a higher rate than ever before. The 3.4 bases on balls per nine frames set a new career-worst. He only made up for it by holding batters to less than 8 hits per nine.
Sometimes pitching with perfect control doesn’t always work. Matz did strike out batters at the highest rate of his career. A few extra pitches out of the strike zone may be to thank.
Home Runs Allowed
One area I absolutely hope Matz improves at is keeping the ball in the yard. While someone like Max Scherzer can survive an abundance of home runs allowed, a pitcher of Matz’s caliber cannot.
Matz gave up an average of 1.5 home runs per nine innings. The 25 he gave up is one more than deGrom and Wheeler did combined. It’s an obvious flaw in his game.
Preventing home runs is a key to success. In particular, when you give up free passes, you cannot give up four-base hits. Matz did each plenty in 2018. Let’s be sure to pay close attention to how many gopher balls he serves up next season.
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This year isn’t make or break for Matz. However, now in his arbitration years, he’s going to have to start showing the front office how valuable he is or is not to their success.