A Closer Look at Mets’ LHP Prospect Steven Matz

steven matz
Matz displaying the changeup grip.

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.

Mechanics

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.

Fastball

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.

Slider

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.

Changeup

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.

 

  • vigouge

    It’s nice to see his change is serviceable with the potential for more. Being a lefty, that’s a big plus to his ability to to stick as a SP as he moves up. I would hate to see someone with his fastball be relegated to the bullpen just because he didn’t develop a pitch to get righties out with.

  • vigouge

    BTW, yay for discus.

  • Lotus1209

    Bold BOLD prediction indeed. Its not a secret that im a huge fan of Matz and have followed him extensively for the past few years. But to say that he will BREEZE through St lucie and Bing just to end up in a relief role come September is a bit contradictive. Assuming He breezes through both levels as a STARTER… he will be on an innings limit come August/September and if he does as well as we both think he will, he will inevitably be shutdown after 25 or so starts. To say he will be on the big-league team solely on the fact that hes on the 40 man is a bit premature to say.. considering Puello was dominating Bing and was on the 40 man and was not called up even with their lack of outfielders. This organization is extremely stubborn when it comes to their young pitching and I see the same route for Matz as we saw with Thor this year.

    The earliest we see Matz is june 2015 after the Super 2 cutoff date… atm. Thats only though, if the same regimen remains in place.

  • mitchpetanick

    40-man is the easiest way to get a call-up in September since the players are already on the roster. Most teams do this and let the young pitchers come out of the bullpen to get major league experience. It’s good ofr the pitcher’s development. It’s not that far fetched, and if not for the innings limitations, it would be wise for the Mets to do it. An inning here or there out of the bullpen would be no different than a pitcher pitching a simulated game in a workout – just because the pitcher is on a innings limit doesn’t mean they completely shut down and stop throwing. I’m also not a big fan of setting innings limits on a pitchers.

  • Lotus1209

    What you and I are fans of means nothing at this point… I too am not a big fan of setting limits. If a pitcher was meant to get injured he will get injured at some point.

    But the point is… this regimen has a philosophy and we have seen it at work for the past three years now regarding Harvey, Wheeler and now Syndergaard. I don’t expect to see anything different at this point as long the front-office stays in tact.

    Don’t get me wrong… I’d love to do what you suggest. The Cardinals have been doing it and its been paying off immensely. But with the way Sandy has been working with its young pitching… I hardly doubt they’d be that aggressive. Especially with a pitcher like Matz who has proven to be a bit fragile in terms of durability.

  • mitchpetanick

    I see what you’re saying…and I agree that the Mets won’t change this philosophy…but like you pointed out with the Cardinals, I not only think it helps these pitchers get a taste of the big leagues but is a nice way to show what your prospects can do to build a trade market for them.

  • DrDooby

    This got lost on transition between the old and new postung system.

    But Matz along with Michael Fulmer (and possibly the # 10 overall pick in a pitching rich 2014 draft) is the most likely Mets pitching prospect to shoot up the lists. Both Matz & Fulmer have the upside to eventually pitch at the front of a rotation and should opene the season with St.Lucie on a team that should have a stacked rotation also featuring Gabriel Ynoa, Rainy Lara, Luis Mateo and / or Domingo Tapia, plus Luis Cessa in all likelihood. The 2014 St.Lucie Mets could be a fun team. Plus hitting prospects like Dilson Herrera, Brandon Nimmo, LJ Mazzilli or Jared King too, quite possibly.

  • JimmyBX

    LOL Discus Yippee!