A couple of weeks ago with the Mets hanging on to a surprising 1st place lead in the National League East, it had been reported that top pitching prospect lefty Steven Matz would join fellow top prospect righty Noah Syndergaard in the Major League rotation around July 1. After losing 7 straight games to fall out of 1st place, the Mets are still a .500 baseball team and still can’t be counted out to win the division. So it is being reported that the Mets will call up Matz from AAA on Friday June 26 to be a part of a 6-man rotation for the time being. However, if Matz performs well enough, then Jon Niese could officially get the boot from the rotation or perhaps the Mets would look to trade Niese or Bartolo Colon for some help on offense, because they are really struggling to score (only 11 runs in their last 8 games).
I advised picking up Matz in re-draft fantasy leagues a couple weeks ago and here is some more information about him. Matz was a 2nd round pick by the Mets back in 2009 as a local boy out of a New York high school. He reported to instructional league in the 2010 season, but he felt discomfort in his arm and it was learned that he would need to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair the damage. So all of the 2010 season was gone for Matz and in his recovery during the 2011 season, he felt additional discomfort and had to be shut down for another wasted year. Finally in June of 2012, Matz made his professional debut and he ended up making 6 starts at the Rookie level of the Minors where he had a 1.55 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 10.55 K/9, and 5.28 BB/9. The walk rate was really high, but that could largely be attributed to some rust after the two-year layoff. There was little doubt within the Mets organization that Matz had a special arm if he could remain healthy.
Fast forward to 2013 where he spent the whole season at the single-A level, making 21 starts with a 2.62 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 10.24 K/9, and 3.22 BB/9. With the lowered walk rate, it gives further proof to the notion that high walk rate in the previous season was just him working out the kinks coming back from the injury. In 2014, he split the season at high-A and AA to display more of the same by compiling a 2.24 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.38 K/9, and 2.24 BB/9 over 24 starts.
Matz then began 2015, his age 24 season, at AAA and has continued to show dominance with a 2.19 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 9.37 K/9, and 3.07 BB/9 in 15 games (14 starts). What is really impressive about Matz’ Minor League career is that he has not struggled at any stop at any level and has provided consistent production upon each promotion. So will his next promotion yield the same results?
With comparisons being made to the likes of current southpaw greats Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, the bar is being set pretty high for Matz. I am no baseball scout, but judging by the surface statistics, looking into his metric statistics, and the reports that I have read on him, I feel that Matz could eventually be mentioned in the same conversation with Kershaw and Bumgarner. Matz brings a mid-90’s fastball that he complements with an excellent changeup and an improving curveball that has been developing nicely. Matz has shown great ground ball tendencies in the Minors (54.8% this year and 49.7% for his career), and that helps him to prevent home runs as he has an incredibly low home runs allowed rate of 0.34 HR/9 in his Minor League career. A pitcher with excellent strikeout capabilities that profiles as a ground ball pitcher with the ability to keep the ball in the stadium is golden stuff.
Of course there is always the caution of top prospect pitchers struggling upon reaching the Majors — see Carlos Rodon, Archie Bradley, and Taijuan Walker. It is no doubt that some struggles should be expected of any rookie pitcher, but I think that the ones that that have the best chance to have early success with less struggles are the ones that have not displayed issues with their control/walk rates in the Minors — see Noah Syndergaard and Eduardo Rodriguez. Matz surely falls into the latter of the two groups to instill optimism for his immediate impact.
For upstart dynasty leagues, Matz should have been drafted, and for returning dynasty leagues he should have been scooped up last year if not sooner. For smaller number keeper leagues, Matz should have been picked up weeks ago. For any type of re-draft league, Matz requires an immediate pickup because he can be better than a good portion of the pitchers for the rest of the season. For DFS, his price should be relatively cheap for his first couple starts, which is going to make him a great bargain play (but beware because there will be many others who know the same, which will drive up his ownership rate).
For the remainder of the season, I will give Matz the line of: 5 W-3 L, 3.49 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 76 K, 28 BB in 80 IP.
Now let’s check out the rest of the action from Thursday’s slightly abbreviated slate!