Matz has been a hot prospect since his Little League days on Long Island. When Matz was 10, Larry Izzo, then a scout for the Expos, handed Matz's father his business card.
"He told me to keep in touch," Ron Matz said. "And look where it ended up." When Steven was drafted in 2009 Ron showed Izzo the card he had been keeping through the years.
It ended up with Izzo moving to the Mets organization as a scout and Steven being drafted and signed by the Mets.
In Matz's senior year at Melville High School in Setauket, New York, he committed to a baseball scholarship at Coastal Carolina in SC. During his senior high school season in 2009, Steve went 6-1, 0.47 ERA through seven starts, allowing 11 hits while striking out 81 and walking 15 in 44 innings.
Matz grew up on Long Island, about an hour from Citi Field.
Former Major League lefthander Neal Heaton, a 12-year veteran and an All-Star with the Pirates, coached Matz on Long Island for about 7 years.
"Steven Matz is a workaholic, and has the skill set to be a Major League pitcher," Heaton said. "He has a smooth delivery and excellent arm action. The Mets made a great selection."
Matz eventually developed into a superb hitter and first baseman, but pitching was his talent.
"The thing that makes Steven so good is his work ethic," said Heaton. "He's not a prima donna. He's just a tough, hard-nosed, blue-collar player who'll be in the big leagues some day. He's the best I've ever coached."
In 2009, Matz got drafted by the Mets (see Transactions below).
In 2010, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Matz as the 11th-best prospect in the Mets organization. And he was at #18 in the spring of 2011, while still never having thrown a pitch in a game. He was not in the book in 2012, but was at #29 in the offseason before 2013 spring camps opened.
Steve moved back up to #12 in the spring of 2014. And in the spring of 2015, he was rated as second-best prospect in the Mets' farm system. And in 2016, he was the #1 prospect in the Mets' organization.
In 2014, Matz was the Mets Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
- Matz fired his first fastball when he was 2 years old. Ron Matz looked at his wife, Lori, and told her, "We might have something special.''
When Matz was 10, he started receiving pitching lessons from Neal Heaton (Indians, Expos, Pirates, Yankees etc.), the former Major League pitcher from Sachem High School. Heaton would look at Ron Matz and say, "This kid is going to be a big league pitcher.'' Ron Matz would respond by laughing and calling him crazy.
Matz's dad Ron is a service manager for a car dealership, and mom Lori an athletic director/secretary at Comsewogue High School in New York.
Matz was good enough to pitch for the varsity as a freshman in high school, but then because of shoulder problems that he attributes to “growing pains," he didn’t pitch as a sophomore, and only a few innings in relief as a junior.
“I just loved playing and I loved hitting," Matz recalls. “By the end of my junior year, I was thinking I’d play in college as a first baseman."
Everything changed when he went to a local showcase camp the summer before his senior year, took the mound and was stunned to learn his fastball was clocked at 89 mph.
“I’d never been clocked before," Matz says. “That got me invited to a national showcase in Minnesota for about 250 kids."
There Matz hit 91 on the gun and suddenly he was in demand. He showed so much ability in subsequent All-Star type competition that he committed to a full scholarship from Coastal Carolina in August, and then the pro scouts kept coming when he dominated hitters during his senior high school season.
“It was such a whirlwind for me," Matz recalls. “I was a pretty shy guy, I never really had to present myself in front of anyone, and then scouts are coming to my house every day after my games." (John Harper/ New York Times)
Matz had Tommy John surgery in 2010. His first pitch in a competitive game after that? Try 2012.
"From the time I started throwing to the time I got back on the mound, I had a bunch of setbacks," he said. "Nothing really too serious. And then I was throwing bullpens—it was OK, it wasn't great. It was the first time I got on the mound again to face hitters, it was hurting pretty good."
Matz said the pattern was he would be shut down for two weeks, feel better, throw again, hurt and get shut down again.
"It was pretty much back and forth the whole time," he added. "I had [the surgery on] May 18, 2010. I didn't become symptom-free for two years."
June 2015: Steven saw the video of his grandfather, who became an Internet sensation for his fanaticism. He went as far as to smack himself repeatedly on his own head during Matz's big league debut at Citi Field.
"I was cracking up," Matz said of his grandfather, 82-year-old Bert Moller. "He's a character. He's a funny guy."
For Matz, so much of the aftermath of his debut was about friends and family. The Long Island native received a thrill from being able to share so many aspects of his callup with those who live just a short drive from the field. His grandfather, in Matz's words, "is eating it up pretty good."
Once Matz had time to enjoy his grandfather's newfound celebrity, then to hang out in and around his hometown with Jacob deGrom the following day, even checking out the sandwich named after him at a local deli, he returned to business—if not necessarily normalcy. Like all starters in the Mets' six-man rotation, Matz will throw two bullpen sessions between starts instead of the usual one. He next pitched in Los Angeles against the first-place Dodgers.
"He's got plenty of time to key down a little bit, get a couple of sides in, but it will be exciting," manager Terry Collins said. "Your second start, and it's in Dodger Stadium against one of the best teams in baseball? He'll be amped up again. When he starts seeing the names in that lineup, you'd better get ready to pitch or they're going to knock you around."
"I had time to soak it all in," Matz added. "But now I'll just put it all behind me and focus on my next start." (DiComo - mlb.com - 6/30/15)
2015 debut: Matz made his season debut, and what a debut it was. Not only did Matz toss 7.2 innings, allowing just two runs, but he also went 3-for-3, drove in four runs, and introduced us to Grandpa Matz. That's quite the afternoon.
Matz's next start came in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, where he struck out eight batters over six scoreless innings. Making it more remarkable was the fact that Matz was pitching through some lat stiffness which landed him on the disabled list for about two months. He came back in September to make four more solid starts and wrapped up his first regular season as a major leaguer with a 2.27 ERA, a 22.8% strikeout rate, and a 6.7% walk rate.
All his life, Steven has admired firefighters. If he weren't a baseball player, he would probably be one. So when Matz's agent approached him this winter, asking what sorts of charitable endeavors he would like to undertake as a full-time member of the Mets, the FDNY clicked into his mind immediately.
So it came to be that 32 members of the FDNY, NYPD, and US Military crowded into a Citi Field conference room, official guests of Matz for the evening. After the rookie pitcher greeted the group at large, he stood on a stage to take pictures with each of them. Then another line formed as Matz signed autographs, in a scene that should grow familiar to him over the course of this summer.
Before each Wednesday home game, Matz will welcome 32 more firefighters, military members and other first responders to Citi as part of his "Tru32" initiative. Each service member will receive a pair of tickets to that night's game at Citi Field.
"I have a lot of respect for those guys," Matz said. "They risk their lives to keep our community safe. I just really appreciate them for that." (DiComo - MLB.com - 4/27/16)
Matz and Jacob deGrom have gotten closer as their careers have advanced beyond rehab. Matz was a groomsman in deGrom’s wedding. They live in the same house in Port St. Lucie every spring training. The two regularly crack each other up in the Met clubhouse, something Matz points out when asked to reveal something that might surprise fans.
“I guess sometimes when a camera comes on, I’m pretty serious, but I’m not that serious a guy all the time,” Matz says. “Me and Jake are always joking around with each other.” (Anthony McCarron - New York Daily News - May 30, 2016)
December 23, 2017: Matz was married to Taylor Cain.
So much of what Steven does for his community, he does quietly. Upon hearing the story earlier this year of the late FDNY lieutenant Christopher Raguso, who died in March in a helicopter crash near Syria while serving in the Air National Guard, Matz donated money to the FDNY Foundation to aid Raguso's two young children. Matz has likewise played an integral role in the Mets' partnership with the Special Olympics, and has traveled to rural Honduras to assist orphans and underprivileged youths. The centerpiece of Matz's community work is his "Tru32" program, which he began in 2016. Each home Wednesday during the regular season, Matz invites 32 first responders from the NYPD, FDNY and other civil-service groups to Citi Field, spending time with them before the game. (DiComo - mlb.com - 9/4/18)
September 18, 2018: Matz, a career .093 hitter, has suddenly found a power stroke. A home run off Nola marked his second career homer.
His first? That came during his last start, off Marlins' rookie Sandy Alcantara. The only previous Mets pitchers to homer in consecutive appearances were Tom Seaver in 1972 and Ron Darling in '89.
Nov 8, 2018: Matz is living his dream right now, but he's also paying forward his good fortune to the bravest citizens around him. A Long Island native, Matz grew up rooting for the Mets and is now preparing for his fourth season as a full-time starter for them. But he also grew up wanting to be a firefighter if baseball didn't work out, and in his time as a Met, Matz has built a reputation for his charitable works with the city's first responders.
Those efforts continued with the Strikes With Steven charity fundraiser at Bowlmor Lanes in midtown Manhattan. Members of New York's fire and police departments and the U.S. military, along with their families, got the chance to meet and bowl with the lanky left-hander in a night of goodwill for public servants.
"Growing up in the New York area and looking back at 9/11, you realize that these people are going to their jobs every day and they're sacrificing their lives," Matz said. "These people keep this community together, and we just want to be there for their families."
The fundraiser was the latest in a series of ongoing events Matz has hosted for his TRU32 charity, which honors first responders in the greater New York area. Matz launched TRU32 in 2016 as an extension of recently retired reliever Brad Ziegler's Pastime for Patriots initiative. Matz has hosted dozens of first responders and their families at Mets home games while raising awareness for the sacrifices of these brave men and women.
"After a long day at work and the type of stress that's involved in our affairs," said police Lt. Emmanuel Kwo, an 11-year veteran of the NYPD, "being able to go to something like a baseball game to let off steam with your friends and family. It's a tiny thing, but it means so much to be able to just relax."
The money raised at the lanes will fund scholarships for children of first responders who lost their lives helping others in the line of duty. Twenty-eight teams took to the lanes, followed by a light-hearted showdown between the FDNY and NYPD. Comedy veteran Jim Breuer was also on hand to give everyone a smile. New York's finest made it clear that Matz's outreach has not gone unnoticed.
"We've gone through a lot in our lives, and just to take a break from our daily routine, it's great to see this," said Kevin Connolly, a recently retired firefighter from Staten Island, who served 28 years with the FDNY. "We do a lot with the kids of those who have fallen, but when it comes from outside the department, it's special. They're thinking of us, and they really care."
Matz also offered a confident prediction regarding his rotation-mate, Jacob deGrom, and the National League Cy Young Award announcement. "I think Jake's got it," Matz said. "I got to go out there every fifth day and watch him from the sidelines, and it was special to watch." (M Kelly - MLB.com - Nov 8, 2018)
During his sophomore and junior years of high school, Steven barely pitched. As a lanky first baseman at Ward Melville High School on Long Island, Matz wasn’t on any college or draft radars. Scouts never came out to see him play. At that point, Matz hoped simply to garner enough notice to play at a Division II college somewhere.
Ron Matz, Steven’s father, had other ideas. Always a proponent of his son’s baseball career, the elder Matz, on a tip from a friend, decided to sign Steven up for a Perfect Game showcase in Connecticut. It wasn’t cheap, but Ron thought it would be a worthwhile risk. So the two took a road trip together across state lines, where Steven impressed both college coaches and pro scouts alike. The next spring, Matz’s senior season, scouts came out in droves.
“It just snowballed from there,” Steven Matz said. “It’s just a good picture of my dad being committed to me.”
Although Matz no longer spends his winters on Long Island, he goes home to spend time with his parents on as many off days during the season as he can. Ron, who worked as a car mechanic and manager when Matz was a child, instilled a love of baseball in him.
“I always looked up to my dad because he’s the type of guy that when anything goes wrong … he can fix anything,” Matz said. “I was always following him around because he could take care of everything. He worked really hard.” (DiComo - mlb.com - 6/16/19)
Long before they profiled as postseason starting pitchers, Marcus Stroman and Steven faced off in what Long Islanders now call the most notable high school baseball game in recent memory. The date was April 16, 2009, and when those Long Islanders talk about it, a few details remain ambiguous. Some, like Stroman's coach Anthony Frascogna, recall it being an "overcast day, one of those early-spring baseball days," that call for windbreakers and enough luck that the skies don't open. Lou Petrucci, Matz' coach at Ward Melville High, recounts it as "a beautiful day for baseball." Unsurprisingly, Petrucci is the one that shortly afterwards adds, "and it was even more beautiful that we won."
This is how legends work, growing and permutating with the stature of their protagonists. Six years later, Stroman and Matz have been important pieces for Major League teams looking to squash significant October demons. But when they met that day, they were former teammates opposing one another for the first time.
What resulted served as a climactic point of the opening act of both their careers -- an epic 1-0 game at Patchogue-Medford High that drew fans and scouts in record numbers and still has them talking. "I've been in the business for 34 years," said Larry Izzo, the Mets scout that eventually signed Matz. "And this was one of the best duels I've ever seen."
There is no denying some of the numbers. They pass the test of time, popping out in black ink of Frascogna's worn scorebook to this day. Stroman notched 14 strikeouts, walked none and threw a three-hitter. Matz struck out 12, walked four and allowed one hit, emerging victorious after Ward Melville scored the game-winning run on -- what else? -- a dropped Stroman strikeout.
All this in front of an unprecedented audience for Suffolk County, an area that typically produces just a handful of Major Leaguers each decade. "From dugout to dugout," Petrucci said, "there was a scout from every Major League team. For early April on Long Island, that's unheard of. It's never happened."
The horde of scouts -- 54, by one count -- watched Matz and Stroman match one another pitch for pitch. Both hit 93 mph with their fastballs. Both went hitless against the other. Both cemented their place as the prime prospects in the region with dominating performances.
After Matz struck out one of Frascogna's players on an 82-mph changeup, the coach approached the angry victim. "Look, there are two people in the country that are going to hit that pitch right now. You're certainly not one of them, so just relax. It was more of a showcase," Frascogna remembers. "The outcome was secondary to the show."
Matz and Stroman were born about 15 miles apart, and had been teammates on local summer teams like the Paveco Storm for years. Come their senior years, both pitched on Thursdays -- Stroman so he could play shortstop by the end of the weekend, Matz so he could play first.
In fact, Izzo first heard of Matz via a recommendation from his longtime friend Ed Mathis, who was scouting for the Dodgers. Mathis liked Matz's swing and glove at first base. "And I hear," Mathis told Izzo, "he is a very good pitcher, too."
Two months after the duel, Washington drafted Stephen Strasburg No. 1 overall. New York took Matz in the second round, leaving behind his scholarship to Coastal Carolina to sign for $895,000. Stroman was drafted in the 18th round by Washington, but attended Duke University. The Blue Jays made him the No. 22-overall pick in 2012 and signed him for $1.8 million.
"I played with Steven since I was probably 8 or 9 years old," Stroman said before his Game 2 ALDS start. "He was on every single one of my travel teams all growing up. He's battled that injury since 2009, and just to see that he is back, healthy, contributing to a playoff team, it's special. "And the fact that he's a hometown guy right by where I grew up makes it even better. His family's best friends with my family and couldn't be more proud of him."
Say the stars start aligning. Then every inch further the Mets and Blue Jays push into October would ratchet up the anticipation for a possible Matz-Stroman rematch. And for those who witnessed their dizzying first encounter, blur that day more and more into myth.
"There were about 1,500 people there," said Petrucci. "But as those two get bigger and bigger, that number will probably jump to 15,000."
Nov 7, 2019: Back in the early days of Matz's career, when he was still a wide-eyed prospect, Carlos Beltrán approached him with some advice. Included was a tip on a good place to work out; Matz ended up using the facility for seven years, including during his rehab from Tommy John surgery.
“Obviously, being a Mets fan, I watched him growing up,” Matz said at his “Strikes With Steven” charity bowling event in Manhattan. “When I sat down at the table in Port St. Lucie [Fla.], and he talked to me, I was kind of starstruck back then. He was a player, obviously a really good player and someone who I was rooting for.”
Now, Beltrán is Matz’s direct boss. A few days after the Mets hired Beltrán to be their manager, he called Matz to reintroduce himself and confer his vision for the team moving forward. Mostly, Beltrán talked about how he aims to use the types of information he leaned on as a player to give the Mets an edge.
“Him being a leader and not too far removed from a player, I feel like he just understands how a good clubhouse can function,” Matz said. “His passion for the game and all the information he’s gathered while he played—he’s obviously a well-respected player in the Major Leagues. I think it’s going to be great.”
In 2019, Matz went 11-10 with a 4.21 ERA, setting a career high with 160 innings while making 30 starts for the second straight year. He will be a significant part of the Mets’ rotation again in 2020. The question is who will join Matz, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman. The fifth member of the Mets’ rotation could be Seth Lugo, Robert Gsellman or an unknown free agent. Matz is holding out hope that his friend and longtime teammate Zack Wheeler will return. (Editor's note: Wheeler signed with the Phillies.)
In the interim, Matz is working on refining his own game, aiming to reduce his propensity for the “blow-up” starts that hurt his ERA in 2019. In his free time, he’s giving back to the community. Matz’s Tru32 charity began in 2016 as a way for him to honor local firefighters, police officers and military members by inviting them to Mets games at Citi Field. It has since expanded to include an annual bowling fundraiser. This year’s event was in conjunction with the FDNY Foundation, allowing Matz to fund scholarships for children with a parent killed or severely injured in the line of duty.
“At first, it was just inviting them out to a game to show our appreciation,” Matz said. “Then, it took on a life of its own, realizing the need that they have when tragedy strikes. Unfortunately, in this line of duty, tragedy does strike too often. So just recognizing that and helping out the little that I can.”
The Mets’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee each of the past two seasons, Matz recently won the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Joan Payson/Shannon Forde Award for community service. He will receive that honor at the BBWAA’s annual New York chapter dinner in January. (A DiComo - Mlb.com - Nov 7, 2019)
2019 Season: The homegrown Steven Matz had another solid year in the middle of the Mets' rotation. Much like the rest of the team, he found his stride during the second half of the season. Matz also reached a career-high in innings pitched and recorded the first shutout of his career.
Matz had a solid start to the season; the only let down being an eight-run outing without recording an out against the Philadelphia Phillies. He had a 3.55 ERA at the end of May, but he struggled with getting deep into the game. In half of his starts, he failed to get above 90 pitches.
Poor June and the Move to the Bullpen
Matz hit a wall during June, with a 7.36 ERA during the month. Things had gotten so weak that Matz had to move to the bullpen in July. After two scoreless outings out of the bullpen, he returned to the starting rotation when Zack Wheeler went down with an injury. Coming off two straight 30-start seasons and having a healthy offseason is going to be a key for his 2020 success.
April 4, 2020: Mets pitcher Steven Matz announced that he is donating $32,000 to New York City first responders and hospitals fighting COVID-19 on the front lines. Matz’s TRU32 charity began in 2016 as a way for him to honor local firefighters, police officers and military members by inviting them to Mets games at Citi Field. It has since expanded to include an annual fundraiser in conjunction with the FDNY Foundation, allowing Matz to finance scholarships for children with a parent killed or severely injured in the line of duty. Now, in a time of need for New York City, Matz is expanding the scope of his operation once more.
“Taylor [Matz’s wife] and I continue to be inspired by the countless selfless acts of our first responders, doctors, nurses, & medical staff in the war against COVID-19,” Matz wrote in a tweet. “Thank you for your bravery and dedication serving our community & your patients!”
The first portion of Matz’s donation went to Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, one of the epicenters of the coronavirus in New York, just two miles from Citi Field.
Matz, the Mets’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee each of the past two seasons for his off-field philanthropy, won the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s Joan Payson/Shannon Forde Community Service award in January. (A Dicomo - MLB.com - April 4, 2020)
June 2009: The Mets chose Steven in the second round of the draft, out of Melville High School in Setauket, New York. He signed for $895,000 with scout Larry Izzo Jr. He said he would pay off his parents' house with his signing bonus.
"We're all lifelong Mets fans," Matz said, referring to both sides of his family. "This is where I want to be."
Steven's grandmother was the biggest Mets fan of all. She was born and raised in Brooklyn.
"She worked in a deli and would cut and save coupons on (Borden Dairy) milk cartons," Lori Matz, Steven's mom, said. "And for every 20 coupons, she would get a free Mets ticket. There were like 500 milk cartons all over the place. She'd take the whole family, and we'd sit in the upper deck. She loved the Mets."
Jan 11, 2019: Steven avoided arbitration, signing a one-year deal with the Mets for $2.6 million.
Jan 10, 2020: Matz and the Mets avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $5 million deal.
- Dec. 2, 2020: Steven signed a one year, $5.2 million non-guaranteed pact with the Mets.
- Jan 27, 2021: The Mets traded LHP Steven Matz to the Blue Jays in exchange for RHP's Sean Reid Foley, Yennsy Diaz and Josh Winckowski.
|DOB:||12/29/1991||Agent:||Icon (Matt Cormier)|
|Birth City:||Stony Brook, NY|
|Draft:||Mets #2 - 2009 - Out of high school (NY)|
Matz has an 92-97 mph 4-seam FASTBALL with glove-side life. It grades out at 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale, and it has some natural sink. He also has a very good 77-80 mph three-quarters buzz-saw 12-to-6 CURVEBALL with short, sharp, downer 12-to-6 action—a true weapon that grades a 50 or 55. He also has an 86-89 mph power SLIDER. His second-best pitch is a very good 83-86 mph circle-CHANGEUP that has plus sinking action, that actually is perhaps his best weapon because of his excellent arm speed on it. It has excellent arm-side fade, depth and separation from his heater. It gets a 60 grade, and flashes 65 on occasion. It's his go-to chase pitch. (May, 2016)
During the 2016 season, Steven used his: 4-seam fastball 12.3% of the time; Sinker 49.2% of the time; his changeup 11.8% of the time; his curve 16.4% of the time, and showed his slider 10.4% of the time.
2018 Season Pitch Usage: 4-seam Fastball 60% of the time, his Change 15.9%; Slider 8.4%; and Curveball 15.7% of the time. Average velocity: 4-seam 94 mph, Change 84.9, Slider 88.9, and Curve 79.2 mph.
2019 Season Pitch Usage: Sinker 50.7% of the time, his Change 20.1%; Slider 14.4%; and Curveball 14.9% of the time. Average velocity: Sinker 93.6 mph, Change 84.5, Slider 89.7, and Curve 78.7 mph.
2020 Season Pitch Usage: Sinker 53.9% of the time, his Change 26.4%; Slider 4.7%; and Curveball 15% of the time. Average velocity: Sinker 94.8 mph, Change 85.2, Slider 90, and Curve 78.1 mph.
Tall and strong with a loose arm and a clean delivery, Stephen aggressively attacks hitters inside with his fastball. He throws in the mid-90s, but it looks like he's almost handing you the ball—at an extremely high speed.
It just explodes out of his hand.
"Pitching is all feel for me," he explained in 2015. "It's really that I feel comfortable and try not to do too much with anything."
Matz' delivery and mechanics have been cleaned up. He pitches with a long stride that helps him leverage the ball down in the zone, and many scouts regard his delivery arm action as positive attributes.
Steve is seemingly playing catch at 95-96 mph. That is how easy and effortless his delivery is.
He has very explosive stuff. And he pounds the zone with it. But in 2015, during his six big league starts, Steven walked almost 18 percent of same-side batters (lefty hitters). (Spring, 2016)
- His 2013 season with low Class A Savannah, studying at the feet of former Cy Young winner Frank Viola, was time well spent. In Viola, Matz found a mentor.
“The main thing he drove into me was just getting my confidence,” Matz said. “Just going out there and, in your head, you have to realize that you can dominate these guys.”
Steve is impressive with his tough and confident mound demeanor.
Matz is going to be a 3-pitch power lefty and #2 or #3 starter.
In 2014, Matz went a combined 10-8, 2.19 ERA in 24 starts at St. Lucie and Binghamton. He logged 131 strikeouts against 35 walks in 141 innings. And allowed just three home runs.
May 25, 2016: Matz allowed two or fewer earned runs in seven consecutive starts. Earning a win in each of those starts, his failure to allow his opponents to cross home plate has tied a franchise record previously set by Tom Seaver. (Joseph Nocco - Knuckleball News)
- 2019 Improvements: Steven Matz tuned up his mechanics with one simple fix in his second start of the season.
The Long Island native struck out eight batters and allowed two hits with four walks across five scoreless innings in the Mets’ 6-5 comeback win against the Nationals at Citi Field.
Matz moved to the other side of the rubber on the mound. It led to better command on the outside corner of the strike zone against the Nationals' righthanded hitters.
- 2020 Improvements: Matz spent his quarantine working on various new curveball grips, with an eye toward making the pitch more of a weapon.
At home in Nashville, Tenn., Matz threw a four-inning simulated game once per week against a group of big league hitters that included James McCann, Logan Forsythe, Bryan Reynolds, Phil Gosselin and Adam Duvall. His goals during those sessions were two-fold: to keep his arm in shape, but also to work on throwing his curveball with different shapes and speeds.
Matz threw his curveball just 14.9 percent of the time last season, the lowest rate of his career.
“I really was just able to tinker with a lot of different grips,” said Matz, the lone left-hander in New York’s rotation. “All that just gave me a better feel for what I was doing out there, and I think that’s the biggest thing is having that comfortable feel on the mound.” (Anthony DiComo - July 8, 2020)
2020 Season: 2020 Stats: 9 Games, 6 Starts, 30.2 Innings Pitched, 0-5 Won-Loss Record, 9.68 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 36:10 K:BB Ratio, -1.0 WAR
Story: After fighting for a rotation spot in spring training Steven Matz quickly received a promotion by fire in summer camp. Injuries to Noah Syndergaard and Marcus Stroman made Matz the Mets’ no. 2 starter, a role he looked prepared for with a brilliant start to the season, allowing one run in six innings against the Atlanta Braves on July 25.
That would prove to be the high-water mark for Matz on the year as everything fell apart after that. Matz was horrifically snake-bit by the long ball, surrendering a whopping 14 home runs in 30.2 innings pitched. The Mets ended up demoting Matz from the rotation in late August and he got hurt in his first relief appearance, leading to a stint on the injured list. Matz got another chance to start in his return from the IL against the Braves on September 18 and got bombed again, giving up six runs in 2.2 innings before getting banished to the bullpen once more. Both of Matz’s relief appearances after that start saw him surrender runs.
2021 Role: Fifth Starter/Long Reliever
The Mets do have a decision to make on Matz, who is arbitration eligible and projected to make just shy of five million dollars in 2021. That isn’t cheap after Matz’s poor performance last year but the Mets may look to take a gamble that they can help Matz harness his old form. Matz will have to compete for a spot in the starting rotation in spring training with a long relief role likely if he can’t win a job.
- Matz entered the 2021 season with a career record of 31-41 and a 4.35 ERA. He had allowed 96 home runs and 585 hits in 579 innings.
June 28, 2015: Steven, then a rookie from Long Island cracked a two-run double in his first big league plate appearance, en route to a three-hit, four-RBI day in the Mets' 7-2 win over the Reds.
Matz became the first player in franchise history to drive in four runs in his debut, and the first Mets pitcher to do it in any game since Dwight Gooden in 1990. He was the first pitcher to have three hits in his debut since Jason Jennings did it for the Rockies in 2001.
He is the first pitcher on record (since 1914) to have three hits and four RBIs in his first Major League game, and the 11th player overall. He's also the only pitcher with four-plus RBIs in his debut, regardless of hits.
- Matz is a very good fielding pitcher.
May 2010: Matz underwent Tommy John surgery on May 18 and missed the entire season.
2011: Steven spent another entire season on the D.L. while rehabbing and slowly recovering from the Tommy John surgery in 2010.
May 2012: Matz started suffering pain and swelling in his arm while pitching. So he went to consult with Dr. James Andrews, who performed his 2010 Tommy John surgery. His message: Without another surgery, there was nothing he could do for the lefty. But then: "I don't know what happened, but I came back out there and it started feeling good," Steven said. So he pitched on.
July 17-end of 2012 season: Matz was on the D.L. and shut down with shoulder fatigue. The tendinitis flared up and kept him out for the rest of the season. He also missed the Instructional League in October and November 2012.
May 29-June 8, 2013: Steven was on the D.L.
- July 9-Sept. 1, 2015: Matz was on the D.L., being diagnosed with a partial tear of the lat muscle on his left side and refrained from throwing for three weeks.
Matz received platelet-rich plasma therapy during an examination by team doctors at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York.
August 15-Oct 3, 2016: Matz was placed on the DL with left shoulder tightness. September 27, 2016: The Mets announced Matz would have surgery to remove bone spurs and was done for the season.
April 1-June 10, 2017: Steven spent time on the DL with discomfort in his elbow.
August 19-Nov 3, 2017: Matz was on the DL with irritation of his ulnar nerve in his left elbow.
August 24, 2017: Stephen underwent surgery "to reposition the nerve and eliminate the irritation." It was performed at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
Aug 1-16, 2018: Matz was on the DL with flexor pronator strain in left arm.
May 6, 2019: No longer fearful of significant structural damage in his left arm, Matz learned that he has avoided the worst. Tests on Matz’s arm confirmed that he is dealing with a nerve issue but nothing involving his muscles or ligaments. Matz will miss a start and could land briefly on the injured list, but should return to the Mets before long. Matz received an injection of cortisone and lidocaine.
May 5-18, 2019: Matz was on the IL with radial nerve discomfort.
Aug 30-Sept 13, 2020: Matz was on the IL with left shoulder discomfort.
Aug 31, 2020: "It is a surprise because I was feeling so good," Matz said of his season progression. "Coming in, I was feeling so good. Even when I was struggling with my results, my arm was feeling really strong and healthy. So I'm pretty bummed about it, definitely."