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.
This is the video from Bullpen Banter that was recorded back in early April, 2013:
It was recorded very early in the season, but I am going to analyze and share for you what I picked up in the video.
Whenever I look at a left-handed pitcher’s mechanics, I hold them up against Cliff Lee. There is some slight cause for concern with Matz’s mechanics, especially coming off significant arm injury in the past. The motion is smooth, but he cuts himself off during the follow-through which causes his arm to recoil back which puts strain on the upper arm. You can see how his arm recoils pretty violently in the video. He does a good job hiding the ball but working on the follow-through will also help him finish his pitches.
This is a plus offering for Matz. He kept all the fastballs down in the zone in the video, which is where he will want to live as a pitcher. The command was a little shaky, but as I said earlier, this video was taken 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.
There was only one or two sliders thrown in the video, and they were hung up in the zone. Luckily the batter fouled off one of the hangers, but as Matz pitches against upper-level hitters, they will turn those hangers into screamers. I have heard that Matz has scrapped the slider in favor of a more effective curve ball, but since he did not throw one in the video, I do not have a report on the effectiveness of the pitch.
Matz throws a very solid changeup that has plus-potential. He used it very effectively against right-handed hitters in the video, keeping it on the outside of the plate. It has excellent movement—tailing away from the right-handed hitters/in on lefties. He used a nice combination of fastballs on the inside half, and changeups on the outside half to keep the hitters off-balance.
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: Matz will breeze through St. Lucie and be promoted to Binghamton right around the All-Star break. After spending a month or two in Binghamton, since he is already on the 40-man, he will be a September call-up and pitch out of the bullpen for the Mets in 2014.