It was back in late June when I wrote a piece questioning whether Steven Matz would find himself protected by the Mets in the 2013-2014 offseason. After all the injuries Matz has had to work his way back from, he actually finds himself eligible for the Rule V Draft this season, and yet has just completely his first full-season of MiLB baseball.
The native New Yorker was recovering from an injury in this year itself that limited him to 21 starts, but he finished the regular season strong. In his last 10 starts, he went 3-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 56.1 innings, where he struck out 65. His starts in the playoffs were even better, however, and if you combine them with his regular season stats — he finishes the year with a 2.38 ERA and 138 K in 119.0 innings pitched. Matz is no stranger to a high strikeout rate, striking out 34 batters in 29.0 innings during his first year of work in Kingsport.
Earlier in the year, I was content to discuss the idea of Matz being protected — but my opinion on that has shifted. Matz could honestly be one of our better prospects moving ahead once Rafael Montero and Noah Syndergaard make that jump to the MLB level. In fact, some people were arguing that Matz will indeed be our top prospect once those guys graduate — and he certainly made an amazing case for that down the stretch for Savannah this year.
Matz is the definition of a live arm and could easily be stashed on an MLB team as a reliever for a year. I’d suffer through it if I could to gain a prospect like Matz in my system — so without question, there has to be a spot for Steven Matz on the 40-man this off-season.