There was a lot of excitement around the Mets organization and its fans on Tuesday… I mean Super Tuesday. We got a good glimpse of the future in New York, as Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler helped New York sweep their first doubleheader against the Braves since 1987. As these young pitchers continue to get promoted throughout the system, I can’t help but notice the one similarity they all share: they’re all right-handed.
Outside of Wheeler and Harvey, Rafael Montero, Noah Syndergaard, Michael Fulmer, Jacob deGrom, Cory Mazzoni, Gabriel Ynoa, and Rainy Lara are just a few minor league hurlers that come to mind. That’s a lot of righties.
To add on top of that, 23 of their 41 selections in this year’s MLB first-year player draft were right-handed pitchers. So, where are all the southpaws at?
Steven Matz has been quietly having a solid season with the Savannah Sand Gnats. Savannah’s pitching staff has been the best in the first half of South Atlantic League play, which is a big reason why the Gnats walked away with the first half championship. Their team ERA of 2.90, 1.11 WHIP, and 612.1 innings pitched all lead the SAL. With pitchers like Lara (before he was promoted to St. Lucie), Ynoa, and Luis Cessa in the same rotation, Matz isn’t getting a lot of press about his performance, but it’s worth noting.
In 11 starts for the Sand Gnats, the left-hander owns a 2-3 record with a 2.88 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 56 strikeouts, and 16 walks in 50 innings pitched. The 22-year-old got his first taste of professional ball last season in the Appalachian League with the K-Mets. He started six games and went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings pitched, but walked 17 hitters.
Despite his H/9IP jumping from 5 to 8.5 this season, his BB/9 has nearly been slashed in half, from 5.3 to 2.9, while his K/9 is still over 10. As long as he stays on the mound, he has the chance of developing into a solid pitcher. Unfortunately, his health is the biggest question moving forward.
He was taken by the Mets in the second round of the 2009 draft, but didn’t get on the field until last season because of arm troubles and surgery. His time with the K-Mets was limited to those 29 innings because he experienced tightness in his throwing shoulder, and was shut down for the remainder of the season. His workload has almost doubled already, so it will be interesting to see how the second half treats that left wing. His future in the organization will largely be riding on whether or not his arm can withstand the abuse that is being a professional pitcher.
Hopefully, he’s able to, but you never know what will happen with young pitchers. This gets magnified when they already have had multiple health issues. Either way, it’d be nice to see another left-handed starting pitcher rise up the prospect ranks over the next couple years. For now, the Mets are hanging their hat on the left arm of Steven Matz.