One of the biggest issues for the Mets last year was stolen bases. Now, a considerable amount of the blame in this respect has gone to Travis d’Arnaud, who only threw out 22% of base stealers last season. That’s simply not good, and there is a lot d’Arnaud needs to work on to bring that number back up to the respectable 33% it was in 2015.
In fact, the Mets allowed the most stolen bases in the Major Leagues last season. While much of that blame has been placed on d’Arnaud’s shoulders, Rene Rivera only threw out 30% of base stealers himself. Heading into last season, Rivera had thrown out 37.1% of base stealers.
Part of d’Arnaud’s and Rivera’s struggles were related to the Mets pitchers struggles holding on runners. Overall, while the Mets pitchers are extremely skilled at keeping runners off the bases, they have not been skilled at hold runners on.
To that end, Steven Matz has decided it was time to do something about it. According to Dan Martin of the New York Post, Matz spent time this past offseason with former Met Scott Rice to work on his delivery to the plate. The end result was debuted in his first start of Spring Training yesterday.
What is interesting is Matz has opted to change his delivery rather than his pick-off move. In what seems to be counter intuitive, Matz is actually taking longer to deliver his pitches to the plate. Matz is leaving his leg hanging during before his delivery thereby giving him the option, at the last possible second, to throw over to first base.
For those that believe it is a balk, it very well might be, but then again so was the moves of pitchers like Andy Pettitte. Overall, the key is repeating the same delivery and maneuver. With that, the balk calls should be at an absolute minimum.
Ultimately, this just might prove effective for Matz, which is good because he needed the help. In his career, base stealers have been successful 23 out of 29 attempts against him. That’s a woeful 20.7% caught stealing rate. Something had to change, and to his credit, Matz did.
An improved and more importantly healthy Matz will be huge for the Mets in 2017.