Matz in the Pen, Not so Fast!

Even before the news of Josh Edgin having total arm discomfort, the 2015 Mets never addressed their left bullpen need during the offseason.  Now that Edgin is in trouble both via his velocity and now arm pain, the collective Mets forum is calling for Steve Matz to be the lefty out of the pen.  Right now Scott Rice is the best option we have based on past experience and spring training results.  How does this make you sleep at night?  Ok moving on, I too woke up this morning and said “Why not Matz”.  Then I thought about it some more and decided to see what other top lefties have done before they became FT starters in the MLB.  Full disclosure, Matz is my favorite prospect the Mets have had since a young SS names Jose Reyes.  Matz is a New York kid who is on the verge of being a star in the league.  Only time will tell if he could be as good as the pitchers I researched below, but even if he comes up and has a “good” MLB career I am still getting my Matz jersey when it is all said and done.

Now I agree with Michael Baron (Justmets.net) when he tweeted “Like to see him complete AAA 1st” about Matz.  Over the last three minor league seasons (remember Matz was hurt after drafted) Matz put up 29 (2012), 106.1 (2013) and 140.2 (2014) innings in the minors.  2014 was the last year Matz was above A ball.  So with that I am 100% on board with Matz starting the year in AAA and starting not in the BP.  If Matz can get in a good 160 + innings this year in AAA and possible the majors as a starter 2016 should be a banner year for the prospect.

If you are still not convinced and say “Start in AAA then come up to the pen come July/August if team need LH reliever”.  I am ok with this, and I looked back to see what the top LH starters have done in relief to start their career:

  • David Price (2008) – 109.2 innings as starter in minors, then made 4 relief appearances in 2008 with the Rays.  Became FT starter in 2009.
  • Clayton Kershaw (2008) – 61.1 innings as a starter in minors, then made 1 relief appearance in 2008 with Dodgers.  Became FT starter in 2009.
  • Madison Bumgarner (2009) – 131.1 innings as starter in minors, then made 3 relief appearances in 2009 with Giants.  Became FT Starter in 2010.
  • Chris Sale in 2010 with White Sox – 10.1 innings in minors, then made 21 relief appearances in 2010 with White Sox.  Pitched 2011 exclusively as a reliever and didn’t start FT until 2012.

Finally John Lester, Cole Hamels and Jon Niese never made a relief appearance in the majors before becoming a starter.  Based on the above we will all have different opinions of what the Mets should do with Matz and the LH reliever position going forward, but now at least we have a little more information to discuss over the old water cooler at work.

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