Steven Matz will never fulfill his potential

Steven MatzSteven 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.

24 comments for “Steven Matz will never fulfill his potential

  1. Doug
    March 28, 2017 at 8:36 am

    FYI, that “hopeful” penultimate paragraph clashes with the declarative nature of the post’s title.

    • Eric
      March 28, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Right Doug. Should be “Will Matz Ever Fulfill His Potential?”. Remains to be seen of course.

  2. Name
    March 28, 2017 at 9:41 am

    I don’t think Wood and Harden are similar comps for Matz because they were able to throw nearly 30 starts early in their career, unlike Matz who has never surpassed 24.
    In terms of always being injured, I think Erik Bedard is a better comp. He also failed to pitch a lot in the minors. He eventually did manage to compile 2 full seasons and looked like one of the better pitchers in the game before injuries took a toll on him again and he struggled to get 25 starts a season after that.

  3. John Fox
    March 28, 2017 at 10:06 am

    Some might have said Nolan Ryan would never fulfill his potential with the Mets either. He pitched for the Mets from 1968 through 1971, and showed flashes of greatness. He was plagued by recurring blisters and a groin injury, both of which sent him to the DL at times and other times he pitched through the blisters but it affected his performance. Then he was dealt to the Angels in one of the most infamous trades in Met history. The blister problem was solved, he had a dominating year for the Angels in 1972 and you all know the rest. I am not saying the situations are identical, just something to think about.

  4. March 28, 2017 at 10:55 am

    It’s still too early to tell, but his career certainly hasn’t had a healthy start.

  5. MattyMets
    March 28, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    At least he’s not alone and usually has either TDA, Lagares, Harvey or Duda to keep him company.

    • Chris F
      March 28, 2017 at 1:27 pm

      Add DW and we certainly have an all star DL team
      🙁

  6. Rob
    March 28, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    He reminds me more of Al Leither. Had tons of hype coming up but always had some sort of injury and missed starts for years. Then he finally got healthy and we know the rest.

  7. March 28, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Ok I was trying to have a positive outlook on Matz’s career. I don’t have much faith in his ability to stay healthy.

  8. NY NIC
    March 28, 2017 at 10:43 pm

    Any positive thoughts? We haven’t even started the season.

  9. TexasGusCC
    March 29, 2017 at 12:26 am

    Why not just accept 150 or so very good innings instead of looking for a more durable starter that gives less quality? Koufax needed a few years to put it together too, eh?

  10. TexasGusCC
    March 29, 2017 at 2:58 am

    I don’t see my comment… What was wrong with it?

    Edit: Now it came up. Still in moderation… Who did I piss off now?

    • March 29, 2017 at 7:23 am

      I did some site maintenance yesterday, which probably had some unintentional consequences. Hopefully your comments will post regularly now.

      • TexasGusCC
        March 29, 2017 at 8:44 am

        LOL, I thought with the regular season starting maybe Collins emailed the site and asked for any bashers to be kept In check.

        Edit: In moderation again.

  11. Metsense
    March 29, 2017 at 7:17 am

    It is disappointing that Matz is hurt again. He already has developed into a dependable starter when he is on the mound and his 2016 was quite good. He ranked 19th best ERA, 13th best FIP, and 24th best WHIP among National League starters that pitched 90 innings. It would place him as a solid #2 starter on most staffs. He started 22 games and averaged 6 innings per start. The Mets have enough pitching that they don’t need him to to be the #2 because there another starters ahead of him. Sure it would be great if he was injury free but I could accept the results of his 2016 season for another five years. He may have already reached his potential and it is up to the fans to accept him as he is, which is still a very good pitcher.

  12. Jimmy P
    March 29, 2017 at 8:18 am

    There is a lot to be said for going out there every 5th day, and that remains the only question left to answer.

    Anything less than that would clearly be a failure to reach his potential — and I’m sure he’d be the first one to admit it. The ability to stay on the field is key to a player’s value, the 6th skill.

    But when a player has this much talent, there’s nothing to do but hold on to him and hope for the best. One great year? Two great years? Five? None? A future reliever? Who knows.

    • Chris F
      March 29, 2017 at 9:12 am

      Interesting comment. I heard an interview with deGrom the other day who said this team of young guns has not proved itself with a full season — he said he needs to make 30+ starts and 200 IP. That is the expectation.

  13. Eraff
    March 29, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    It could be that Matz is a Clay Bucholz “type”— maybe 25 or so starts….lot’s of Garage Time….. but he’s a good pitcher. If he can make 22-28 starts with a low mid 3 ERA, I will take it!

    Maturity will either help a lot or, or he’ll get hurt even more

    • Jimmy P
      March 29, 2017 at 3:20 pm

      I have a theory.

      When some guys get hurt badly early in their careers, it haunts them forever. Every ache or pain, they worry and fret. Matz feels “tender” in his elbow and thinks, “Not again.”

      He’s the type who will always have that shadow.

      The weekend skier who wipes out his ACL or breaks a leg is never the same daredevil again. And somehow that new, more cautious approach is worse. What’s amazing about Lyndsey Vaughn is how, after all those injuries, she keeps skiing exactly the same way, hellbent for the finish line. Not too many people can do that.

      Or ten-cent psychology aside: Maybe Matz has just got one of those injury-prone bodies. Or plum bad luck.

      • Chris F
        March 29, 2017 at 3:40 pm

        I’ll add to that. Mets pitchers have been told to let the coaching staff know when anything is amuck. I think Matz was compelled to let them know somethign was different. And the knee jerk reaction is to step off the gas and let it cool off. We know the whole staff has been kid-gloved all ST. Sure, Matz has a rep for being injury prone, but I would still rather he keep that line of communication open rather than have him pitch in silence if the situation is real. He got his work in. Im expecting him to be fine (for now).

        • Chris F
          March 29, 2017 at 4:19 pm

          let me edit this based on a new TC interview.

          He has been shelved for now, is presently getting an MRI and will not be with the team heading north.

          🙁

  14. Eraff
    March 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    All of that said— if he’s a 22-28 start guy with some down time, I just keep peoplel around to keep him going—and I keep extra pitching depth.

    The best Yankee teams had some guys who filled and some who needed fill.

  15. Eraff
    March 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    All of that said— if he’s a 22-28 start guy with some down time, I just keep peoplle around to keep him going—and I keep extra pitching depth.

    The best Yankee teams had some guys who filled and some who needed fill.

  16. March 30, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    Matz update:
    * MRI came back “negative.”
    * PRP injection in the elbow
    * Starts the season on the DL
    * Won’t begin throwing for at least 3 weeks
    * Gsellman & Wheeler #4 & #5 starters

    Per ESPN

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