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Don’t Matz This Up

The Cardinals signed Steven Matz to a 4-year $44 million contract. (Photo Credit: David Berding/Getty Images)

I didn’t like it. I saw the news and I threw up in my mouth a little. The one guy I did not want the Cardinals to sign, they signed. Steven Matz, the bane of my fantasy baseball existence is now a Cardinal. If I’m being completely honest, my anti-Matz prejudice is predicated on one thing and one thing alone. Matz cost me not one, but two fantasy baseball league championships.

The joke among the league was that I had “Matz’d” the bed. Indeed I had on two separate occasions. I have liked Matz since he was a rising prospect in the Mets system. His upside was sky high. Fast forward a few years and he burned me twice. I vowed from that day that I would never again trust Steven Matz. Never again would I “Matz the bed.” Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever…you get the point.

So you can image my shock and my disdain when news broke that the Cardinals signed Matz to a four-year $44 million deal. I knew it was a possibility as the team had been connected to him in rumors. I just hoped it wouldn’t happen. Once it did though, I had to come to terms with it.

Despite my deep misgivings based on personal experience, I went back to the numbers. They’re underwhelming to say the least. That is, until you look deeper. While his career FIP is north of 4.30 and his career ERA is over 4.00, there are some things to like.

Matz doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but he doesn’t walk very many either. His career K/9 is only 8.58, which is respectable, but his career BB/9 is only 2.75. Consider the other players the Cardinals have been connected to in rumors and things look better. Consider this:

Pitcher K/9 BB/9 GB% Matz 8.58 2.75 47.1

Player A 7.47 2.52 57.4

Player B 10.71 2.40 37.1

Looking at all three together, Matz stacks up fairly well. He’s better in some areas, but worse in others. Player A is Marcus Stroman. Player B is Max Scherzer. Now obviously Matz isn’t Scherzer. But he’s actually more comparable to Stroman, the guy I wanted them to sign. Not bad when I look closer.

Now let’s look at two players that were on the roster last year:

Pitcher K/9 BB/9 GB% Flaherty 10.47 3.07 40.9

Wainwright 7.59 2.43 48.1

Matz actually stacks up quite nicely here. He won’t strike out as many guys as Flaherty will, but he walks less and induces more ground balls. He won’t get as many ground balls and will walk more than Wainwright, but he will strike out more. That’s much more encouraging to me. There‘s one more thing. Matz is a lefty, something the team doesn’t already have. At least, not one that’s ready.

The one thing about Matz that truly stands out is that, 2020 aside, he keeps the ball on the ground. Busch Stadium is a pitcher’s park. Couple that with the fact Matz has never pitched on a team with five gold gloves backing him up and the best field general in the game catching him and that’s a definite recipe for success.

When it’s all said and done, maybe the third time’s the charm. But seriously, don’t “Matz” this up for me. Thanks for reading.

Brian Swope is an editor and staff writer for Gateway City Sports. He is the host of the YakkerJacks podcast and an IBWAA member. You can follow him on Twitter @PoppaSwope.

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