Steven Matz has been with the Mets organization since being selected in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft. In that time, he has been an excellent starter when he has been able to stay on the field, unfortunately, those times have been few and far between.
In 2010, he suffered a torn UCL while pitching in an instructional league, and did not make his professional debut until 2012. When he returned from this injury he progressed quickly through the minor leagues until making his debut in 2015.
He started with a bang and went on to have a record of 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 10 walks in 35.2 IP. He missed time with a hamstring injury but was able to return and pitch in the postseason. Last season he pitched well in the early part of the season including a stellar May in which he was named the National League rookie of the month. His success would not last, and it was discovered that he had a bone spur in his elbow. He tried to pitch through the pain, but eventually developed a strained shoulder and was shut down for the season in late August.
During the offseason, he had surgery to remove the “massive” spur in his elbow and was supposed to be good to go for the season. In the past, few days, it has been reported that he will miss his next spring start due to elbow tenderness and could potentially start the season on the disabled list. This has got to be troubling news for both Matz and the Mets who luckily can turn to either Seth Lugo or Zach Wheeler as a replacement for the lefty.
One cannot help but think of several other promising young starters who could not seem to stay healthy such as Rich Harden or Kerry Wood. Wood was able to have a fairly lengthy career as a relief pitcher while Harden had a short, injury tainted career.
It is becoming increasingly likely that Matz will never develop into a dependable starter, capable of making more than 25 starts in a season. While healthy, he has shown flashes of being a front of the rotation starter. He is also the only lefty starter currently on the Mets roster. His health is a key factor in the team’s success this season and in the future.
Hopefully, this latest injury is just a small bump in the road and not something more serious. While his long track record of injuries is disconcerting, he is still only 25 and has shown flashes of brilliance while healthy and hopefully will be able to overcome these injuries to develop into the front of the line starter he is capable of being.
If he is indeed placed on the DL, Lugo should be given the first shot at the rotation spot with Wheeler filling in as long-man out of the pen.