The 2020 New York Mets starting rotation has taken shape, and it looks like this:
Now you may have noticed that there are six names listed. Oh good, you can count.
I'm not sure what the Mets are going to do with six rotation guys, but if I had to guess, this guy's grandson is on the way out.
That's Bert Moller, in case you didn't know. Which if you didn't, me telling you his name tells you nothing about who I think is the odd man out. Well let me get to the point.
It's Steven Matz.
Yes, Steven came up through the Mets farm system and grew up in Long Island.
Yes, Steven is the only lefty of the bunch.
Yes, Steven won 11 games for the Mets last year which was tied for most on the team.
Yes, Steven is going to be pitching out of the bullpen this year if he's wearing orange and blue.
Matz posted a 4.21 ERA in 2019, which is within two-tenths of a point of his career mark. It's not so much his failures as a pitcher why I predict Estebán to be moved to the pen or out of New York. It's his health.
In five years as a Met, Matz has appeared in 103 games, 101 times as a starter. Carry the two... that's roughly 20 starts a season. In a 162 game season using a five man rotation, a healthy starter should have somewhere around 30-32 starts a season. 20, on average over five years, is 33% fewer starts than Matz should be averaging if he were a healthy guy.
Drafted in 2009, Matz didn't make his professional debut (in the minors) until 2012 because of early elbow discomfort in 2010 that lead to Tommy John surgery. The season he made his major league debut, 2015, he only made 4 starts in the regular season because of a torn lat and back spasms. He came back for the playoffs and started game 4 in each the NLDS, NLCS, and World Series. His postseason performances were good not great, but at least he was healthy enough to perform. Unfortunately that health did not last.
In 2016, doctors discovered a bone spur in Matz's elbow, which he pitched through for two months shooting up on cortisone in between starts. After a 1-7 record following the discovery of the bone spurs, Matz hit the DL with an unrelated injury to his shoulder. Eventually it led to surgery and the end of his season.
In 2017, Matz missed April and May with more elbow inflammation. He came back and threw 5 quality starts before an 0-4 streak in July. Overall for the year Matz pitched to a miserable 2-7 record with a 6.08 ERA over 13 starts. His season once again ended early with another appointment with the elbow surgeon in August.
2018 and 2019 were banner years for Steven's health as he managed to eclipse 30 starts both seasons. But 16-21 and a 4.09 ERA over those two seasons is not going to win you any merit badges.
I love Steven Matz. He's got great stuff when he's on. He's aggressive at the plate and is a threat every time he steps into the box. Plus he doesn't wear batting gloves so he's a man of my own heart. But with deGrom, Noah, and Stroman guaranteed starting spots, it's basically between Matz and the new guys Wacha & Porcello (isn't this blog supposed to be about them? Fuck you, it's my blog) to fight it out for the remaining two spots. With more elbow surgeries than injury-free seasons in the bigs, I don't see a world where the Mets give Matz a job in the rotation, at least to start the season. Especially since Wacha and Porcello were both promised starting jobs by Brodie when they signed. Hopefully no one bats lefty against us until the 7th inning or later.
Now will Steven be content throwing out of the bullpen? I think he will if he has early success with it. But more likely than that, he seems like a nice trade piece to either bolster our depleted farm system or add a bat. I'd like to keep him. I don't care if he goes down to AAA as a starter for rotational insurance. That's an important part of a team as you can count on at least one guy going down over the course of the season (spoiler the guy who goes down will probably be Matz). The only thing we CAN NOT do is trade him in the division. If we have to face Wheeler and Matz in the division this season it will be a recipe for horrific karma and we for damn sure don't need any more of that.
Thanks for reading and now let's move on to what really matters: