You’ve heard the name before, but 2013 was the first real look at the Mets’ LHP prospect Steven Matz due to him missing significant time recovering from arm injuries.
I recently named him as my Mets’ pitching prospect to watch in 2014, as he seems to be on a path to be named a top-five prospect very soon. When a scout finds a left-handed pitching prospect that bring an electric 95 mph fastball, it’s like a fisherman landing an 800 pound marlin. It’s easy to see why the Mets protected Matz from the Rule 5 Draft, and added him to the 40-man roster—every angler looking to hook an 800 pound marlin would have cast their line into the water.
Not many Mets fans have gotten a chance to see this young man pitch and see why everyone is so excited. Unless you live in the Savannah area, odds are you are limited to the one video that can be found on YouTube that shows Matz throwing about 15 pitches—some better than others. You may have also seen a Vine of him spinning things on his finger like a Harlem Globetrotter. However, if you hung around long enough in the Mets game yesterday, you would have gotten a chance to see Matz on the bump.
Matz came in the fourth inning of yesterday’s matchup against the Cardinals, and gave Mets fans another glance of what the future holds. The first batter he faced was Yadier Molina—talk about pressure. He quickly got behind 3-0 in the count, as he couldn’t spot his fastball. But Matz battled back, and struck out Molina on six pitches.
Facing his second batter, he flashed two very good curveballs before giving up a base hit on a fastball.
Here is some further analysis of what we saw in Matz’s appearance yesterday.
This is a plus offering for Matz. The command was a little shaky yesterday, but it’s very early in the year. With more innings, the command will come. He wasn’t afraid to come inside on the right-handed hitters, and was very aggressive with his fastball, which was very nice to see from a guy who brings a mid-90s heater.
I have heard that Matz has scrapped the slider in favor of a more effective curve ball, and yesterday was the first chance I got to see it. His curve didn’t have the 12-to-6 break you normally see, it was more like 11-to-5, but it was extremely effective. However, he stuck to fastballs for the majority of the pitches he threw.
Matz throws a very solid changeup that has plus-potential. It has excellent movement—tailing away from the right-handed hitters/in on lefties. He struck out a batter with a changeup to end the fourth inning yesterday and it looked nasty. With his velocity, he can pepper fastballs on the inside half, and changeups on the outside half to keep the hitters off-balance, and be very successful.
In all, Mets fans should definitely look for great things from Matz in 2014. It’s easy to see why he is creating a buzz and there is a ton of excitement building for the young fireballer again. He struck out over 28% of the batters he faced in 2013 and put up a FIP of 2.63, which is excellent. He will probably start the season in St. Lucie and be a nice replacement as the ace of the staff after Noah Syndergaard set St. Lucie ablaze in 2013.
Bold Prediction: After watching him pitch in yesterday’s game, he has the stuff to skip to Binghamton. If he doesn’t start there, he should join Binghamton right around the All-Star break. He could be in the mix for a 2015 call-up and possible bullpen option for late 2014 if he doesn’t exceed his innings limit.by