Mets: It’s a shame Steven Matz declined so drastically after such a great start

Sep 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) reacts after being taken out of the game against the Miami Marlins during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 23, 2019; New York City, NY, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Steven Matz (32) reacts after being taken out of the game against the Miami Marlins during the sixth inning at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports /
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Steven Matz’s major league career started off great but his decline with the New York Mets has reached levels of disappointment.

Steven Matz became a quick fan-favorite for New York Mets fans back in 2015. The timing was perfect. The squad was about to go on a miraculous run to the World Series. With them, they would take a rookie first-round draft pick who also happened to be a local kid.

Matz made six regular-season starts for the 2015 Mets. The result was a 4-0 record and 2.27 ERA. He had all of the signs of becoming one of the next great Mets pitchers. Together, with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Matt Harvey, this team would win multiple championships.

Things didn’t exactly work out in Matz’s favor. He was good again in 2016, finishing 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA in 22 starts. After this season, however, he began to decline.

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The 2017 campaign was horrifically bad (2-7 with a 6.08 ERA) but this included only 13 starts and an injury. We can write it off as a missed year.

In some ways, the 2018 and 2019 seasons were similar for Matz. He went 5-11 with a 3.97 ERA in 2018. The next year, he was 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA. Other numbers—innings pitched, strikeouts per nine, and ERA+ to name a few—were much more similar.

Coming into 2020, Matz had to battle for a rotation spot in the spring. Although he wasn’t coming off of a devastating season in 2019, the Mets were hoping for much better out of their rotation.

Injuries and opt-outs accelerated Matz from a fifth starter competing for his job to a core member of the rotation. He failed to make the most of his 30.2 innings of work—both as a starter and reliever. When the 60-game season concluded, Matz was winless at 0-5 with a career-worst 9.68 ERA.

Matz did battle through injuries this past year. Like we can in 2017, let’s call it a lost season.

Regardless of how much stock you put into those two very bad seasons, the verdict is in. Matz has been a disappointment.

Is there anything left in the Matz tank?

At 31-41 with a 4.35 ERA, the once-promising young lefty enters 2021 in the final year of his contract with the Mets. Free agency is in his future. With it comes uncertainty about his future role with another ball club.

In the early part of the 2021 season, Matz will celebrate his 30th birthday. It’s a notable one for many professional athletes. Once he has been through thirty years on this planet, I think the perception changes from their potential in the future to what their past resume looks like.

There is one hope left for Matz. We may get to see a glimmer of it in 2021. Young enough to evolve in the game still, maybe he hangs around and reinvents himself as a reliever. I cannot imagine a path with more rewards. His days as a starter may be numbered with only the occasional appearance in an emergency situation.

Matz remains a favorite for some loyal fans in Flushing and I can’t blame them. He has been a professional throughout his time in the big leagues. The only time he makes headlines off the field is when he is getting involved in charity work. He’s classy and it’s truly is a shame that the back of his baseball card doesn’t look as good as we once dreamed.

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Likely headed elsewhere after this upcoming year, the legacy Matz leaves in Queens will not be what we originally had scripted.