Steven Matz

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Steven Jakob Matz

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Biographical Information[edit]

Starting pitcher Steven Matz began his professional career in 2012.

He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 2009 amateur draft (one pick after pitcher David Holmberg), but didn't begin playing professionally until 2012 because of elbow issues and eventual Tommy John Surgery.

He joined the Kingsport Mets in 2012 and went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in six starts, striking out 34 batters in 29 innings. With the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2013, he went 5-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 21 starts, allowing only 86 hits, while K-ing 121 batters in 106 1/3 frames. Between the St. Lucie Mets (12 GS, 4-4 W-L, 2.22 ERA) and Binghamton Mets (12 GS, 6-5 W-L, 2.28 ERA) in 2014, Matz went 10-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 starts, striking out 131 batters in 140 innings.

He was a Organization All-Star in 2013 and 2014 and was a Florida State League Mid-Season All-Star in 2014.

He began 2015 with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. Entering the season, he was named the 33rd-best prospect in the game by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus and the #66 minor leaguer by Baseball America ranked him the 2nd-best prospect in the Mets system, behind only pitcher Noah Syndergaard. On June 25th, the Mets announced that he would be called up to make his major league debut in the coming days, as the Mets were seeking to use a six-man starting rotation in order to give additional rest to their young starters. Not only did he win his debut against the Cincinnati Reds, 7-2, in the second game of a doubleheader on June 28th, but he also became the first pitcher to drive in 4 runs in his first games as he went 3 for 3 with a double. Those 4 RBIs were in fact a record for any Mets player making his debut. Things had not started so well as the first batter he faced, Brandon Phillips, homered off him, but he then only gave up one more run in 7 2/3 innings. This being New York where being a celebrity, albeit an instant one, is something else, his favorite deli on Long Island immediately announced that it was renaming his favorite sandwich in his honor. He followed his historic debut with another good start on July 5th as he gave up no runs on 2 hits in 6 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and took credit for an 8-0 win. However, he got some bad news four days later as he was diagnosed with a torn muscle in his back and went on the disabled list for an extended period. The news came out of the blue, given that he had been pitching with no sign of discomfort, although he later explained that he had felt a twinge near his left armpit in his debut and had informed team brass, but they had let him make his next start when the problem became more serious. He returned on September 6th and after a no-decision, continued his winning ways, defeating the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, on September 11th, and the New York Yankees by the same score on the 18th. In spite of his relative lack of major league experience, he seemed a lock to be in the Mets' postseason starting rotation until he was scratched from a scheduled start on September 30th because of a back injury. The back problems were only a glitch, however, and matz was able to take his regular turn in the Mets' young starting rotation all postseason, all the way to a Game 4 start in the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals on October 31st. He was charged with a loss in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings, but pitched well in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, allowing only a run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings before being lifted in favor of Bartolo Colon with a 6-1 lead one out shy of qualifying for the win. Given his injury history, the Mets were prudent with him, only asking him to deliver five innings per start.

Steven made the Mets' starting rotation out of spring training in 2016 and was still considered a rookie in spite of his postseason experience and the time he spent on the major league disabled list. In May, he was named the National League Rookie of the Month on the strength of a 4-0 record and a 1.83 ERA in 5 starts. The solid month came in the midst of a seven-game winning streak which was snapped on June 7th when he lost, 3-1, to the Pittsburgh Pirates and former teammate Jon Niese. On August 14th, he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the San Diego Padres before Alexei Ramirez slapped an opposite-field single with one out. He was immediately pulled form the game at that point, as the Mets were being careful with his pitch counts, but he still got credit for a 5-1 win. It was the longest no-hit bid by a Mets pitcher since Johan Santana had pitched the only no-no in franchise history on June 1, 2012. He finished the season at 9-8, 3.40, having made 22 starts and pitched 132 1/3 innings. He had an excellent K/W ratio of 129/31. After the season, he had surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.

In spring training of 2017, he felt tenderness and irritation in his elbow, possibly as a result of the off-season surgery. He had to start the season on the disabled list, not making his first major league start until June 10th. Facing the Atlanta Braves in the second game of a doubleheader, he was very sharp, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings of work to claim the victory. He made 13 starts, but with disappointing results, going 2-7, 6.08 and logging 66 2/3 innings. On August 21st, the Mets announced he would undergo surgery again, this time to re-position, and not replace, the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow, and would not pitch again that season. The nerve was causing irritation and discomfort, preventing Matz from pitching at full strength. He returned to pitch his first full season in 2018 when he made 30 starts and logged 154 innings, both personal bests. He went 5-11, 3.97 for a Mets team that was never in contention and had trouble scoring runs. On July 27, 2019, he pitched the first complete game and shutout of his career when he blanked the Pittsburgh Pirates, 3-0, on a five-hitter. It came in his 90th career start, not counting the postseason. He finished that season at 11-10, 4.21, setting personal bests for wins, innings pitched (160 1/3) and strikeouts (153). With back-to-back seasons of 30 starts, it looked like he had put his early health issues behind him, but 2020 was a disaster as he made just 9 appearances during the shortened season, because of shoulder discomfort, and only 6 of these were starts. The results were a disastrous line of 0-5, 9.68. In just 30 2/3 innings, he gave up a whopping 14 homers.

On January 27, 2021, the Mets threw in the towel and traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays in return for three young pitchers: Sean Reid-Foley, Josh Winckowski and Yennsy Diaz. The Blue Jays were making it a habit of acquiring pitchers like Matz with tantalizing stuff but mixed results, such as Robbie Ray and Tyler Chatwood. His first start for the Jays on April 4th was a good one, as he limited the Texas Rangers to 1 run in 6 1/3 innings while striking out 9 batters. He then also won his next three starts to stand at 4-0, 2.31. He couldn't maintain that level of excellence, but a month later, after defeating the New York Yankees, 6-2, on May 25th, he was at 6-2, 4.28. He recorded his 7th win on June 12th, but then went on the COVID-19 list and basically lost a month, as he was out of whack when he returned, and then had to take another pause due to the All-Star break. However, he managed to put it back together in his first start of the second half by pitching five scoreless innings against the Rangers in the second game of a doubleheader. The Jays gave him a huge cushion by scoring 10 runs over the first two innings, and two relievers, Rafael Dolis and Tayler Saucedo, pitched a scoreless inning each to complete the shutout, the second of the day as Hyun-Jin Ryu had pitched one as well in the opening game. He ended the season with a record of 14-7, 3.82 in 29 starts, with 150 2/3 innings and 144 strikeouts. The Jays barely missed the postseason, and had to make a decision about which of their starting pitchers they would try to re-sign, as Matz and Robbie Ray, who won the Cy Young Award, were both free agents, with José Berrios having just one year left on his contract. They decided to extend Berrios and attempt to keep Ray on board, which meant that Matz was free to look elsewhere. On November 23rd, he signed a four-year deal with the St. Louis Cardinals for $44 million.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Ted Berg: "100 Names to Know: Steven Matz, Michael Conforto key for Mets", USA Today Sports, February 10, 2016. [1]
  • Manny Randhawa: "Matz reaches 4-year deal with Cards (source)",, November 24, 2021. [2]

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