New York Mets: Will Steven Matz become a trade casualty?
By Tim Boyle
An unexpected trade candidate for the New York Mets, will the team move on from Steven Matz this winter because of the surplus of starting pitching options they now have?
The New York Mets didn’t come away emptyhanded at this year’s Winter Meetings. Rather than do the obvious and attack the free agent relief pitcher market, the club added a pair of starting pitchers: Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha.
The pair were signed on back-to-back days and after the Porcello signing, it seemed as if Wacha might fall into the bullpen. However, Wacha came out and said the Mets told him he would be a starter for them in 2020. This leaves the Mets with six starting pitchers and only five spots.
Some have speculated this could mean the Mets are open to trading a starting pitcher. Jacob deGrom isn’t going anywhere and neither are the two new guys. This leaves the team with three left to choose from.
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Among the three left, Steven Matz looks like the one the Mets may be most interested in trading. Brodie Van Wagenen said the team wouldn’t trade Noah Syndergaard this winter, but these developments could always change his thoughts.
As for Marcus Stroman, I think the team gave up too much in July to only flip him months later. If they’re going to sell us that he was the Zack Wheeler replacement plan all along, they can’t get rid of him this quickly.
Mets fans have mixed feelings about Matz. Doesn’t it seem like this is the case for just about everyone on the roster? In his case, I think most acknowledge he’ll never be as good as he was early on in his career.
As the lone lefty starter left in the rotation, there’s an argument in favor of keeping him for this reason and nothing more. I don’t particularly buy into a rotation needing a mix of lefties and righties. You’re going to face a team’s best hitters regardless of which hand the pitcher throws with.
For his career, Matz has gone 31-36 with a 4.05 ERA. His 97 ERA+ suggests he’s a slightly below-average pitcher. I think this is pretty fair and maybe even an overstatement. His first six starts in 2015 were fantastic and he was real solid again in 22 starts for the team in 2016. Those two seasons drastically helped his overall numbers.
Matz has stayed healthy over the last two seasons which is a huge positive. Not so good are the results. From 2018-2019 he went 16-21 with a 4.09 ERA. These are fifth starter numbers, making him an expendable piece if the Mets are truly looking to compete for a championship.
There’s no trade rumor about the Mets moving on from Matz or any serious need to. Right now, it’s speculation and everyone trying to figure out what the actual plan is.
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Putting Wacha in the bullpen and having some sweet depth is what the plan should be. It’s only because of a promise made to Wacha that we have to wonder what’s next for Matz, Stroman, and Syndergaard.