New York Mets opt to keep Steven Matz on a one-year deal

The New York Mets, in an attempt to bolster their rotation and overall pitching depth, decided to bring back left-handed pitcher Steven Matz ahead of yesterday’s non-tender deadline.

Bob Nightengale reported on Wednesday that the New York Mets were in agreement with the southpaw on a one-year deal worth $5.2 million. That way, both parties avoided the arbitration process.

Four members of the Mets were non-tendered last night, all pitchers: Chasen Shreve, Ariel Jurado, Paul Sewald, and Nick Tropeano. Outfielder Guillermo Heredia was also brought back on a one-year pact to serve as a backup option for all three spots.

On the other hand, the Mets decided to keep Matz around for at least one more season with the hope that he can leave his 2020 behind and replicate the form that made him a successful hurler in 2019 and in previous seasons in Queens.

The Mets’ southpaw is capable of more

While battling left shoulder bursitis at one point in the weird 2020 campaign, Matz finished with an ERA of 9.68, a 7.76 FIP, and a 4.15 xFIP. In nine games, he pitched 30.2 innings and had a 10.57 K/9 and a 2.93 BB/9, both excellent marks.

However, the primary issue in his statistical profile is the 4.11 HR/9 mark he had. No pitcher can survive in the major leagues with such a horrible number, but the Mets are banking on an improvement with a much larger sample in 2021.

The truth is that the Mets couldn’t afford to let Matz walk. He’s capable of a much better showing if he has health on his side, as was the case in 2019. That season, he finished with a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings. His career earned run average is a much more palatable 4.35, and given that the Mets have virtually no rotation depth beyond the five options, it made sense to keep Matz around.

Find out what the Mets are planning to do with Steven Matz ahead of the non-tender deadline

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets, now that Sandy Alderson revealed that he will make baseball decisions from now on, are actively looking for ways to put the best possible roster for the 2021 season and beyond. That includes analyzing some potential free agent signings, trades, and deciding which players to keep and re-sign of their already existing core.

The New York Mets are in need of several starters. Marcus Stroman will be coming back next season and will join Jacob deGrom and David Peterson under contract, with Noah Syndergaard expected back sometime around June or July. The wild card here would be Steven Matz, who is arbitration-eligible.

The deadline for teams to decide whether to tender contracts to players eligible for the arbitration process is Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET. Matz had a horrible season in 2020, marred by a left shoulder bursitis and some ugly numbers.

The Mets’ lefty struggled in 2020

In nine games and six starts, the Mets’ lefty somehow managed to compile a 0-5 record and a -0.7 fWAR. In 30.2 frames, he had a 9.68 ERA and a 7.76 FIP, although his xFIP (4.15) wasn’t as bad as the other run-prevention stats.

According to Ken Davidoff of the New York Post, the Mets are likely to tender a contract to Steven Matz before Wednesday’s deadline. It isn’t a surprising development since the team can’t afford to lose capable starters that wouldn’t be so expensive.

If he returns his 2019 form (4.21 ERA in 30 starts and 160.1 innings) he could be a valuable back-end starter or a depth option should the Mets bring Trevor Bauer, Masahiro Tanaka, Jake Odorizzi or another alternative for the rotation via free agency or trade.

Matz is still 29 years old and has had success in the past. According to Tim Healey of Newsday, he has been working with Phil Regan with the hope of getting his career back on track. The Mets paid him $5 million in 2020.

New York Mets Player Evaluations: Pitcher Steven Matz

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

Steven Matz put together one of the worst pitching seasons in New York Mets history. The rotation needed Matz to step up at their two starter, behind Jacob deGrom and was the complete opposite of reliable. After two solid starts to begin the season, everything went downhill quickly.

Matz had a 3.18 ERA over his first two starts of the season, which included holding the Atlanta Braves to one run over six innings in his first start of the season. Despite the two good outings, Matz was consistently leaving the ball up in the strike zone and struggled to put hitters away with two strikes.

Home Run Machine

The following seven outings (four starts) for Matz featured a brutal stretch on the mound. Matz pitched to a 13.50 ERA, allowed 11 home runs, and a .360 batting in 19.1 innings pitched. He also dealt with a left shoulder injury, which kept him out for two weeks.

The reason for Matz’s struggles was his inability to pitch like a true sinkerballer. Matz threw a majority of his sinkers up and down the middle. When throwing that pitch 53.7% of the time, it became batting practice fastballs that hitters had a .322 batting average. Matz’s offspeed also spent plenty of time in a similar real estate as the sinker. While it was not up, it was still down the middle far too often.

His changeup was the one pitch that had some promise, but Matz has not mastered it. When he throws it anywhere from the knees to the ankles, it is a tremendous weapon for him. The changeup was in the upper part of the league when it came to horizontal and vertical movement. It netted him the most strikeouts of any pitch and had a 32.6% whiff rate.

What is the Fix?

The soft/medium/hard contact rates are very similar to 2019, so where did he go wrong? Matz’s biggest difference was the ground ball, line drive, fly ball ratios. In 2019, they were 19.8%, 47.1%, 33.0% compared to 28.4%, 32.6%, 38.9%. Combine those numbers with his average exit velocity increasing by almost three miles per hour, and you have a disaster.

The biggest fix Matz can make is attempting to start every pitch he throws at the knees and letting the natural movement take its course. Working down in the zone alone would lower the extremely high home run rate. The next thing for Matz would be to master the areas 6-10 inches off the plate on both sides. This would make hitters uncomfortable with digging in easily and allow his sinker to work off the inside corner to right-hand hitters.

I hope he does figure things out because he is living out a dream to pitch consistently in his home state. It was clear that his confidence was shattered at the end of the season, and nothing was working for him. Luckily, he will get one more opportunity to show he can live up to the prospect expectations he once had.

Matz will come into the 2021 season on the outside looking in of the Mets rotation. He is in the final year of his deal before free agency and could be a useful part of the bullpen or as a swingman. Do not be surprised to see the Mets cut ties with Matz and eat the money if he does not improve quickly in the spring.

2020 Grades On 20-80 Scale (2021 Projection)

Sinker: 35 (45), He threw it his hardest since his rookie, but the movement lacked due to its poor location.

Changeup: 50 (55), Could be his saving grace but still has to refine it.

Curveball: 20 (30), Only thrown 15% of the time, but hitters batted .400 against it.

Slider: 30 (30), Only threw 30 of them but hitters hit .250 against it with a homer.

Command: 20 (40), There is wild out of the zone, and then there is wild down the middle. Matz was the latter.

Overall: 20 (40), Absolutely horrible season, but somehow I believe a rebound is possible.

New York Mets: Will Steven Matz be a starter or a reliever in 2021?

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets had the worst of lucks when it comes to starting pitching in the condensed 2020 season. They lost Noah Syndergaard for the whole year and part of 2021, and pitchers such as Michael Wacha, David Peterson, Steven Matz and even Jacob deGrom had to deal with some sort of injury.

Speaking of Matz, he was arguably the worst starter in the New York Mets‘ roster this year. In nine games (six of them starts) and 30.2 frames, the left-hander had a ghastly 9.68 ERA with a 7.76 FIP, although his xFIP was a much more palatable 4.15. He was worth -0.7 fWAR in a regretable performance.

However, he should get a free pass, at least to some extent. He was diagnosed with left shoulder bursitis in August, and if you have been following baseball for quite some time, you know that the worst kind of ailment a hurler can suffer would be a shoulder injury.

Matz was so bad as a starter (he had a 10.17 ERA and batters were virtually prime Babe Ruth against him, slashing .342/.388/.703 with a .449 wOBA) that once he returned from his injury, the Mets tried him in an unfamiliar role: as a reliever.

The Mets’ lefty had a home run problem

Things weren’t much better there: he had a 7.20 ERA, and while batters only hit .211 against him, they slugged .684 and had a .376 wOBA. It was clear that, no matter the role, Matz was having notorious issues with the long ball.

For his career, the Mets’ lefty has allowed 1.49 home runs per each nine innings pitched. This year, it was an absurdly high 4.11. His HR/FB is 17.5% in his six-year tenure, but this year, it jumped to 37.8%.

No matter what role he fulfils with the Mets next year, Matz will have to A) show his shoulder is healthy, and B) trim the home runs. For his career, he has a 4.35 ERA, 4.49 FIP and a 4.01 xFIP, and the vast majority of his innings have come as a starter.

What role will the Mets assign Matz next year? It will largely depend on what kind of offseason they have.

New York Mets: Only Fitting For A Blowout To End The Wilpon’s Reign

New York Mets, Billy Hamilton

Mediocrity is the first word that comes to mind in the broken marriage between the New York Mets and the Wilpon ownership. Their decisions, hirings, and lousy PR led to the Mets becoming the laughing stock of baseball and the butt of every joke. The Mets 15-5 loss to the Washington Nationals closed an ugly 18 years of Wilpon majority ownership.

Seth Lugo likely made his final start as a Met in which he allowed six runs and did not make it out of the second inning. The lack of quality starting rotation depth put the Mets in a situation where they had to force Lugo to be a starter. Should the Mets fix their pitching rotation, Lugo would play very well in his natural bullpen role.

Early Rout

This game was pretty well decided when the Nats had 11 runs after the third inning concluded. Brad Brach and Steven Matz concluded their poor seasons with poor outings, allowing the Nationals to put the game away. Dellin Betances also continued the trend when he made his second outing off the IL. Jeurys Familia was the only reliever to complete two innings without allowing a run and finished his season with a 3.71 ERA.

The two bright spots came from the bats of Pete Alonso and Guillermo Heredia. Alonso had three hits, including two home runs, to finish up the season on a good note. Heredia had two hits and drove in two runs as he hopes to earn an invite to camp in 2021.

The Mets finished their season at 26-34, tied for last place in the NL East. They fell under the .500 mark seven games into the season and never climbed out of that hole in their disappointing season. Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson inherit a broken organization, filled with potential. With their window to win still wide open, expect the front office to revamp this roster for the 2021 season.

New York Mets: 2020 has been a rough year for Steven Matz

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The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to New York Mets‘ starter Steven Matz. He was coming off a successful 2019 in which he had a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings, but this time around, he has battled injuries and ineffectiveness and has an unsightly 9.79 ERA in 26.2 frames. He has had to deal with a left shoulder ailment and his usual first-inning issues.

The left shoulder bursitis that he had in early September clearly limited, and Matz had to travel back and forth between the Mets’ alternate training site and the big league camp in search for answers.

In his first start since August 15 – he had a brief move to the bullpen – Matz was the losing starter for the New York Mets as they got thrashed 15-2 by the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. In 2.2 innings, he conceded six runs, eight hits and three walks.

With the loss, the Mets fell to 23-28, and it is now very difficult to qualify for the postseason with so many teams vying for a Wild Card spot and less than 10 games left in the calendar.

“It always comes down to executing pitches,” Matz said according to MLB.com. “The sharpness wasn’t there. Executing pitches wasn’t there. I gave those guys a chance, and they capitalized.”

“The command hasn’t been there,” manager Luis Rojas said. “The execution of the pitches, the sequencing … made it big innings against him. From the first inning basically, that was happening to him, where he was not able to execute his pitches.”

The Mets expect more from him

With a mid-90s fastball and a big curveball, it is perplexing that Matz can’t get better results. His command issues are just too much to overcome.

“His stuff is one of the things we like a lot — the fastball velo, the changeup, the contrast that he can create, the angle of his pitches,” Rojas said.

“It’s been a frustrating year for me,” Matz said. “I came into Spring Training 2.0. I was feeling great. I pitched great early on. For it to go this way is really frustrating. … I’ve just got to keep working hard. All I can do is keep putting my best foot forward.”

New York Mets: Matz Fails in Return to Rotation in 15-2 Loss

The New York Mets were out of options in their starting rotation, so Steven Matz lucked into the start against the Atlanta Braves. Matz’s outing went exactly the way we all expected it to. The Braves treated it like batting practice and gave the same treatment to Franklyn Kilome to put up a 15-2 victory.

The only savior for the Mets would have been a rainout because of the lack of confidence in Matz. It was the same pitcher they had before his IL stint, and he put the Mets in a hole early. Over 2.2 innings pitched, Matz allowed six runs on eight hits, including two more home runs. It was part of the Braves scoring in the first four innings of the game.

Kilome returned to the Mets roster before the game since the Mets needed relief help. He provided relief but did not offer any help in the game. Kilome allowed six runs and another two home run to the Braves offense.

Hughes to the Rescue

Jared Hughes came in for a rare long relief appearance throwing 3.2 innings and allowing three more runs and two more homers. While it was not the best performance, it saved the Mets from overusing their bullpen.

Brad Brach and Todd Frazier (you read that right) were the only pitchers with scoreless appearances. While Brach’s was only a one-out cameo, Frazier hurled a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. He even got Adam Duvall to strikeout looking on a knuckleball.

On the other side, Max Fried continued his Cy Young campaign. Over five innings, he only had three strikeouts but held the Mets to one run, keeping his ERA under two. Jeff McNeil provided the only offense off Fried with an RBI double in the fifth.

Amed Rosario provided three of the five Mets hits on the night. His sixth-inning single gave the Mets their second and final run of the game.

On Saturday, David Peterson tries to become the first Mets starter to make it to the third inning in three games. He faces Ian Anderson at 7:07 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

New York Mets: This injured pitcher is inching closer to a return

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets have had countless issues when it comes to their pitching depth, both in the rotation and the bullpen. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, there was a point in the season in which a rookie and two relievers were being used as starters.

The team is slowly getting healthier, but the pitching staff remains, at best, a question mark. The bullpen keeps blowing games and the starters, behind Jacob deGrom, provide no guarantees.

One of the members of the original New York Mets’ starting rotation, Steven Matz, went down with a shoulder injury in late August. One can’t help to link his atrocious start of the season (0-4, 8.63 ERA in 24.0 frames and six games) is linked to the shoulder ailment in some way.

The Mets’ pitcher is taking a huge step today

Thankfully, Matz, whose precise diagnosis is left shoulder bursitis, is throwing a simulated game today at the Mets’ alternate site in Brooklyn, according to MLB.com’s beat writer for the Mets Anthony DiComo.

That is a crucial step in the right direction for Matz, who began playing catch last week after hitting the injured list on August 30.

In late August, Matz reported left shoulder discomfort and was taken off the rotation and moved to the bullpen. A few days and tests after that, he was diagnosed with the bursitis.

The New York Mets fully expect Matz to return before the end of the regular season. If that ends up being the case, he would pitch out of the bullpen, although it’s not clear in which role.

A healthy Matz should be a welcome addition for the Mets’ pitching staff. Last season, he rode a dominant second half to a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings in the year as a whole. He could be a valuable long man or pitch in a more traditional, one-inning relief role. Only time will tell.

New York Mets boot Steven Matz from the rotation, Seth Lugo takes his place

The New York Mets rotation is in shambles. Noah Syndergaard was lost in March to Tommy John surgery, Marcus Stroman opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, Michael Wacha is out with shoulder inflammation, David Peterson is also on the injured list and Rick Porcello and, most notably, Steven Matz have struggled.

Matz, according to Mets’ manager Luis Rojas, has been demoted to the bullpen. He has a 9.00 ERA in five starts and 23.0 innings. His place in the rotation will be occupied, from now on, by Seth Lugo, starting on Thursday.

“Seth has been a starter for us in the past, and with the ability for him of navigating through a lineup, his repertoire and command, we’re going to go that way with him,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “That’s the route we’re taking right now, is for him to start more and stretch him out.”

The Mets’ pitching wild card

Lugo has always preferred to be a starter, but he was considered such a big part of the bullpen that the New York Mets always chose to leave him there. He is now going to be a starer out of necessity.

He has 31 starts in his career, but the last time he took the ball to start a game was on June 25, 2018. He needs to be stretched out, which could take a few games.

The Mets needed Lugo in the late innings of Wednesday’s game, and given that he was slated to pitch today, Rojas chose not to use him as Dellin Betances and Edwin Díaz blew a two-run lead in the eighth. Thankfully, Michael Conforto saved the day with a two-run homer in the ninth.

“We blew a save opportunity there, but Díaz did a good job coming right back showing what he can do,” said Rojas, referring to Díaz striking out the side in the ninth. “We trust our ‘pen; we trust the guys that we have there.”

New York Mets: Steven Matz’s struggles have team looking for alternatives

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The start of the 2020 MLB season has been nightmarish for New York Mets‘ starters. The issues started long before the first game: Noah Syndergaard went down with Tommy John surgery in March.

Marcus Stroman nursed a left calf strain and then decided not to play because of COVID-19. Michael Wacha went down with right shoulder inflammation, then Jacob deGrom had some neck tightness and had to miss a start.

Now David Peterson, the rookie who has pitched very well for the New York Mets, is going to the injured list as well.

Only Steven Matz and Rick Porcello haven’t suffered any ailments, but they haven’t been particularly effective.

Matz, in particular, has been torched almost every time he takes the hill. In five starts and 23.0 innings, he has a horrific 9.00 ERA and has been worth -0.3 fWAR. His WHIP stands at 1.57.

Will the Mets replace Matz?

If it weren’t for the Mets’ litany of injuries in the rotation, Matz probably wouldn’t make his next scheduled start as he works on some things. However, there probably are too many absences for that plan to take place. Yet, the team still is undecided.

“We’re still discussing with him things that we want to fix, things we want to work with him [on] … things that we’re working for him to translate into the game,” Rojas said. “We’re not committed either way yet.”

Seth Lugo, one of the best and most reliable relieves in the National League, remains a possibility to start in Matz’s next turn. Lugo has starting experience but the Mets have said they prefer him as a reliever. Yet, the need for a starter is evident.

“It’s something to think about. Seth can do different things,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “We’re not committed with him yet to do something as an opener or something as a starter yet, but that’s something that, you never know. His versatility can definitely help us to do some things different from the bullpen in the future. We’ll see.”