Mets pitcher Steven Matz needs another year of keeping runners honest

New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz drastically cut down on the number of stolen bases against him in 2019. It must carry over into 2020.

In 2018, one of the biggest issues for New York Mets pitcher Steven Matz when he stepped on the mound was how easy it was to steal a bag against him. Typically, you’ll find lefties have an easier time at keeping runners honest. This wasn’t the case for Matz.

Matz allowed 28 stolen bases against him in 2018. It was a big raise from the previous high of 20 allowed back in 2016—the only other year in his career at the time with 20+ starts.

Heading into 2019, I fully expected Matz to be the victim of stolen bases at a similar rate. Matz proved me wrong by cutting them down significantly. Only 9 base runners successfully stole a base against Matz in 2019.

There’s no asterisk to this number either. Matz threw more innings than ever before last year. In a season with plenty of controversy surrounding the relationship between Wilson Ramos and the starting pitchers, it’s pretty amazing to find Matz improve in this category.

Plenty of credit should go right to Matz as men simply weren’t trying to get the extra base against him.

Even though he did give up more base runners on average than the previous year, he made sure he wasn’t giving away anything free on the bases.

Last year, Noah Syndergaard led the National League with 42 stolen bases against. Jacob deGrom was tied for second in the league with 24. This isn’t a coincidence.

Syndergaard and deGrom did get plenty of help behind the plate from the backup catchers in 2019. All the while, Matz refrained from saying anything about the situation and allowed Ramos to stay there. The two must have found some kind of groove. It can’t all be dumb luck, can it?

One season doesn’t suggest a major change in Matz. A repeat of this in 2020 could mean he has finally found a way to prevent runners from taking advantage of him.

As important as other numbers are for pitchers, there’s great value in stopping stolen bases.

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It’s a team effort between pitcher and catcher with a little help from the rest of the infield. Matz, Ramos, and the rest of the boys did it well in 2019. Let’s see them prove there was no sorcery and witness them do it all over again in 2020.

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