Don’t get me wrong. I like Steven Matz. He’s easy to root for as a Long Island kid pitching for his hometown team. Overall, however, his 2020 season didn’t build on his 2018 and 2019 performances.
In his sixth season with the team, the 29-year-old southpaw went 0-5 in six game starts (plus three relief appearances), with just over 30 innings pitched. He gave up 33 earned runs including 14 home runs. His ERA was 9.68 and his WHIP was 1.70. He was placed on the 10-day injured list on August 30th and returned to action on September 13th. A two-week stint on the injured list might not be too big a deal in a full 162 game season but in a shortened season, the impact of that injury was multiplied. This impacted the team, even more so, when you factor in the performance issues with Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha plus absentee issues with Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman.
When writing a proposed 2021 roster, I suggested that the team move on from Matz and deal him. The general response to that seemed to indicate that many Mets360.com readers have not given up on him. What drives that support? What things can we find about his performance this season which offers hope for improved future results?
Some things to consider:
o In 2020, Matz produced a 36:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
o It should be noted that team’s 2020 pandemic-reduced schedule was not an easy one and Matz had to face the Braves twice, the Nationals three times, plus the Yankees, the Rays, the Phillies, as well as the Red Sox once each. The shortened schedule along with the reduced number of teams faced certainly didn’t help any Mets pitcher.
o Matz’s velocity remained consistent throughout the season, ranging between 93 and 95. His lowest velocity game (93 mph) occurred in his first game back from the injured list against the Braves on September 18th, when he gave up six earned runs on eight hits in just under three innings pitched.
o In 2020, Matz gave up 13 of his 14 home runs against righthanded batters.
o Matz will turn 30 at the end of May next year.
o His two best performances this year were his first two starts. He gave up one earned run in a six inning non-decision against Atlanta on July 25th. He then gave up three earned runs in just over five innings against Boston on July 30th.
If the overall consensus is that Matz is part of the solution and not part of the problem, it seems logical that he be used in a role that provides the highest percent chance of a successful outcome. As such, a relief role seems to be the best choice. An opponent can exploit a weakness in a starter by stacking their line-up but a reliever can exploit an opponent’s line-up by facing a specific sequence of statistically vulnerable batters…