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Steven Matz Should Be Guaranteed A Rotation Spot

With the New York Mets signing Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha this offseason and purportedly promising them rotation spots, the Mets are in a position where they need to figure out how to make it work with six starting pitchers. Right now, the Mets are trying to figure things out, and there was a report in the New York Post that the Mets may keep all six pitchers in the rotation with Steven Matz and Wacha alternating who gets that start based upon match-ups.

While this is an intriguing strategy, there is an inherent problem. Looking at things from this perspective ignores how Matz is really the Mets fourth best starting pitcher. Take a look at the last two years.

ERA ERA+ FIP IP K/9 BB/9
Steven Matz 4.09 95 4.61 314.1 8.7 3.1
Rick Porcello 4.87 94 4.37 365.2 8.2 2.3
Michael Wacha 4.14 100 5.05 211.0 7.5 3.9

Without going deeper, Matz has the best ERA and strikeout rate of the group. He also has the second best ERA+, FIP, and walk rate. Taking these and other stats into account, Matz has showed himself solidly as one of the five best starters on this team. When we delve a little deeper, his case is further solidified.

Last year, Matz (2.2 WAR) was at least doubly productive a pitcher than either Porcello (1.1 WAR) or Wacha (0.2 WAR) were. He was the only one with an ERA below 4.76, a WHIP lower than 1.394, a strikeout rate about 7.4, an ERA+ above 90, and he was the only pitcher with a complete game shutout.

Matz also was the only pitcher who did not allow over 10 hits per nine, and he yielded the best home run rate. Of the three pitchers, the only thing you could look at was Porcello pitching more innings. However, when you dig deeper, both Matz and Porcello averaged 5.1 innings per start.

There’s another important factor. While Porcello had the worst ERA in the American League last year, and Wacha was shut down with a shoulder injury, Matz figured something out last season which made him a much better pitcher.

After working with Phil Regan to move to the middle of the rubber, he was on a completely different level than either Porcello or Wacha.

In the 14 starts since that adjustment, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.52 ERA, 1.120 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9. That July 16 start was his first start since coming back out of the bullpen, and he was limited to just four innings. Beginning with his July 21 start, Matz was 6-4 with a 3.46 ERA, 1.181 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, and a 2.6 BB/9 while averaging nearly six innings per start.

Right there is the reason you go with Matz, and that is before you consider he’s the only left-handed option in the rotation. He is the pitcher who has turned a corner in his career, and he is the pitcher who is really the best out of the three. Ultimately, when you break it all down, Matz is the Mets fourth best starter, and he is a good bet to improve off of his 2019 season.

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