The Mets brain trust is pondering the role Steven Mat will have in 2021 – will he be a starter or reliever? But I have a much better idea.
After six years, the Mets are still trying to figure out what to do with Steven Matz.
Steven Matz first donned a Mets uniform playing in the Rookie League for Kingsport in 2012 as a second-round high school draft choice.
Pitching in each of the four levels in the Mets farm system, Steven Matz made his debut with the big club on June 28, 2015, at 24.
Matz dazzled the Cincinnati Reds that day, picking up his first major league win tossing 7.2 innings of five-hit ball, surrendering only two earned runs.
The Mets Ponder A Failed Project
Six seasons later, Steven Matz has added only thirty more wins, while his overall record with the Mets shows 31-41. In fact, Matz has always been a losing pitcher in that his career mark as a professional ballplayer stands at 56-62, with a pedestrian 3.55 ERA.
A clean-cut local boy from Long Island who competed in travel leagues against Marcus Stroman, the Mets have taken a liking to Steven Matz, despite his lack of production in fulfilling a left-handed role starter.
Over the years, Matz has been the subject of many discussions, with participants from the front office, coaching staff, and scouts, all of whom to have sought to come up with the answer that uncovers what makes Steven Matz tick.
It was easy to see what was wrong with Matz; right there in front of you in almost every start were images of Steven Matz beating himself.
He’ll cruise through three or four innings, and then a bloop single would fall in, a teammate would make an error, followed by a four-pitch walk, ending yet another false start in Matz’s career.
Mets: What To Do With Their Lost Little Boy
Steven Matz is no longer the kid from Stony Brook, NY, with all the talent in the world. Instead, he’ll be pitching this season at the age of 30, and to put it gently, Matz is at a crossroads in his baseball career.
The Mets are tossing around making Matz a reliever, but no one is claiming to know where this idea came from. But if not in the bullpen, then what?
Gut it out and stay with him for another try as a starter? This, following a 2020 season of six starts, going 0-5 with a whopping 9.68 ERA?
Of course, the other option for the Mets is to surrender to Steven Matz’s inability to pitch at this level with success – by offering him in a trade.
Left-handed starting pitchers remain a rare commodity, but beyond that, finding a suitor for Matz will not be easy.
In many ways, Steven Matz is the Mets version of Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. As projects and experiments with both have failed, both players can only benefit from a fresh start in a new environment.
Albert Einstein put it this way when he defined insanity as doing the same thing repeatedly and standing by expecting a different result.
The Mets can keep their cards unrevealed for now, giving Sandy Alderson ample time to fill the huge holes in the number four and five spots of the Mets rotation. Of course, this assumes that Noah Syndergaard is healthy enough to join Jacob deGrom and David Peterson sometime in May to head the staff.
Mets: A New Approach That Just Might Work
A more positive way of looking at the Mets situation with Matz is that 2021 is his “walk year,” meaning Matz will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.
Arbitration should not be kind to Matz for 2021 and save for seniority that usually provides a built-in bump in salary; the Mets have a chance to send Matz a tough-love message by offering him (say) a paltry raise of $50,000 to add to the $5.2 million he earned in 2020.
Realizing that the umbilical cord that Matz has enjoyed with the Mets will be severed after the upcoming season – and “Oh my God, I’m on my own after this year” – will be enough to spur Matz in a new direction.
I wouldn’t count on it, and neither should the Mets. There’s something about Steven Matz that is “off,” and praise the many who have tried to break through the wall he puts up, but time is up.