Steven Jakob Matz
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6' 2", Weight 200 lb.
- High School Ward Melville High School
- Debut June 28, 2015
Starting pitcher Steven Matz began his professional career in 2012.
He was drafted by the New York Mets in the 2nd round of the 2009 amateur draft (one pick after pitcher David Holmberg), but didn't begin playing professionally until 2012 because of elbow issues and eventual Tommy John Surgery.
He joined the Kingsport Mets in 2012 and went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in six starts, striking out 34 batters in 29 innings. With the Savannah Sand Gnats in 2013, he went 5-6 with a 2.62 ERA in 21 starts, allowing only 86 hits, while K-ing 121 batters in 106 1/3 frames. Between the St. Lucie Mets (12 GS, 4-4 W-L, 2.22 ERA) and Binghamton Mets (12 GS, 6-5 W-L, 2.28 ERA) in 2014, Matz went 10-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 24 starts, striking out 131 batters in 140 innings.
He began 2015 with the Triple-A Las Vegas 51s. Entering the season, he was named the 33rd-best prospect in the game by both Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus and the #66 minor leaguer by MLB.com. Baseball America ranked him the 2nd-best prospect in the Mets system, behind only pitcher Noah Syndergaard. On June 25th, the Mets announced that he would be called up to make his major league debut in the coming days, as the Mets were seeking to use a six-man starting rotation in order to give additional rest to their young starters. Not only did he win his debut against the Cincinnati Reds, 7-2, in the second game of a doubleheader on June 28th, but he also became the first pitcher to drive in 4 runs in his first games as he went 3 for 3 with a double. Those 4 RBIs were in fact a record for any Mets player making his debut. Things had not started so well as the first batter he faced, Brandon Phillips, homered off him, but he then only gave up one more run in 7 2/3 innings. This being New York where being a celebrity, albeit an instant one, is something else, his favorite deli on Long Island immediately announced that it was renaming his favorite sandwich in his honor. He followed his historic debut with another good start on July 5th as he gave up no runs on 2 hits in 6 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and took credit for an 8-0 win. However, he got some bad news four days later as he was diagnosed with a torn muscle in his back and went on the disabled list for an extended period. The news came out of the blue, given that he had been pitching with no sign of discomfort, although he later explained that he had felt a twinge near his left armpit in his debut and had informed team brass, but they had let him make his next start when the problem became more serious. He returned on September 6th and after a no-decision, continued his winning ways, defeating the Atlanta Braves, 5-1, on September 11th, and the New York Yankees by the same score on the 18th. In spite of his relative lack of major league experience, he seemed a lock to be in the Mets' postseason starting rotation until he was scratched from a scheduled start on September 30th because of a back injury. The back problems were only a glitch, however, and matz was able to take his regular turn in the Mets' young starting rotation all postseason, all the way to a Game 4 start in the 2015 World Series against the Kansas City Royals on October 31st. He was charged with a loss in Game 4 of the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, giving up 3 runs in 5 innings, but pitched well in Game 4 of the NLCS against the Chicago Cubs, allowing only a run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings before being lifted in favor of Bartolo Colon with a 6-1 lead one out shy of qualifying for the win. Given his injury history, the Mets were prudent with him, only asking him to deliver five innings per start.
Steven made the Mets' starting rotation out of spring training in 2016 and was still considered a rookie in spite of his postseason experience and the time he spent on the major league disabled list. In May, he was named the National League Rookie of the Month on the strength of a 4-0 record and a 1.83 ERA in 5 starts. The solid month came in the midst of a seven-game winning streak which was snapped on June 7th when he lost, 3-1, to the Pittsburgh Pirates and former teammate Jon Niese. On August 14th, he took a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the San Diego Padres before Alexei Ramirez slapped an opposite-field single with one out. He was immediately pulled form the game at that point, as the Mets were being careful with his pitch counts, but he still got credit for a 5-1 win. It was the longest no-hit bid by a Mets pitcher since Johan Santana had pitched the only no-no in franchise history on June 1, 2012. He finished the season at 9-8, 3.40, having made 22 starts and pitched 132 1/3 innings. He had an excellent K/W ratio of 129/31. After the season, he had surgery to remove a bone spur from his pitching elbow.
In spring training of 2017, he felt tenderness and irritation in his elbow, possibly as a result of the off-season surgery. He had to start the season on the disabled list, not making his first major league start until June 10th. Facing the Atlanta Braves in the second game of a doubleheader, he was very sharp, allowing only 1 run in 7 innings of work to claim the victory. He made 13 starts, but with disappointing results, going 2-7, 6.08 and logging 66 2/3 innings. On August 21st, the Mets announced he would undergo surgery again, this time to re-position, and not replace, the ulnar nerve in his pitching elbow, and would not pitch again that season. The nerve was causing irritation and discomfort, preventing Matz from pitching at full strength.
- Ted Berg: "100 Names to Know: Steven Matz, Michael Conforto key for Mets", USA Today Sports, February 10, 2016.