2022 Braves Player Review: Tyler Matzek

My last player review was about Ian Anderson, a guy that maybe fell victim to the massive first-time workload of carrying your team to a World Series win. Tacking on an extra month of high stress innings when you’re already trying to develop the ability to handle full major league seasons over and over again has to be an insurmountable task for some of these pitchers. In 2022, first it was Luke Jackson who was showing that he may not be back for a swan song, then Ian Anderson and Tyler Matzek started showing they weren’t quite their former selves.

And Tyler Matzek seemed to have it worse than everybody when it came to the grind of Atlanta’s 2021 postseason run. It would be easier to list the games he didn’t pitch in that postseason. He pitched in all 4 games of the NLDS; games 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 of the NLCS; and games 1, 3, 4, and 6 of the World Series. Good gosh. “Night shift is ready,” Matzek said to our adoration.

It didn’t take a genius to see what happened the next year: after a 2.64 ERA/2.80 FIP in 2020 and 2021, he came back to earth to a 3.50 ERA/4.49 FIP in 2022. It wasn’t hard to see that he wasn’t right. His velocity was down, K rate was down, swing-and-miss was down. He was just down. He missed about six weeks with shoulder inflammation, and then he was finally out with Tommy John surgery on October 12th.

So put Matzek on ice for 2023, and we’ll hopefully see him back in 2024. Atlanta is not giving up on him, however, as they still signed him to a two-year deal through 2024. He’ll make $1.2M this year while he recovers and then $1.9M in 2024. If he comes back healthy, that’s a steal. They could have non-tendered him and tried to catch him on the back end once he was recovered. But as shrewd and calculated as AA can be, I really applaud how he has handled the financial aspects of the recoveries of two my favorite Braves, Matzek and Mike Soroka. There’s no guarantee whatsoever either of these guys pitch a competitive inning for Atlanta, but that didn’t stop AA from committing a total of $5.9M to the two recovering pitchers.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing you again, Nutsack.

47 thoughts on “2022 Braves Player Review: Tyler Matzek”

  1. We may not win the WS if Matzek wasn’t around. Forever in your debt, Tyler.
    And yes, great job by AA, to keep him around.

    @1 Very exciting, Ryan.

  2. Great job Rob. Matzek is a tremendous story without his playoff heroics and he will forever be one of my favorite Braves.

    I agree with Timo @3…we probably don’t hang the flag without him.

  3. Absolutely true.

    Completely unrelatedly… Chief, I was not expecting to see a discussion of the Old Firm on this blog! Do you support the Bhoys or the Teddy Berrs? Or neither?

  4. Doing a little catching up

    I showed middle child the Fried chatter. I thought there were fanciful, fun threads. She was not impressed

    Second all the Matzek comments so far. Excited for Braves Journal reboot

    And, from previous thread, it’s always a good day when there’s some Miranda Lambert track I wasn’t aware of. Thanks Rob

  5. to @60 from prior thread – that’s not a bad rendering of the probable discussion. I don’t recall where I saw it (Talking Chop?) but if you look at the MLB Trade Values site, you find that the Braves basically came out even in the Murphy trade (same value out as in). The A’s lose and the Brewers win. However, if the A’s wanted Ruiz THAT badly then they are probably happy and what we end up with is a win-win-win. It’s pretty rare that everyone is happy about a deal and it may be more rare to have a prospect (Ruiz) that someone will overvalue to the max.

    The haul for Murphy is not much different than what I was expecting would be required to get Reynolds.

    P.S. I think our bullpen is gonna be extremely good in 2024 if Matzek, Jackson, and Yates all come through.

  6. @6 I am a Wigan supporter for the most part… Having said that, I am absolutely fascinated with the neighborhood aspect of lower level football, whereby the grounds are such an integral part of a community on a simultaneous micro and macro level in a way that IMO even transcends HS football stadia in the American South.

    As to the Old Firm, I have nay opinion on but I’ve learned that my ancestors are from Lanarkshire, and were important enough that my last name is the community to the NE of Lanark so I suppose I probably should add the mighty ‘Well to my repertoire.

    I do like the Hoops kits…

    https://www.google.com/maps/place/55%C2%B035'00.0%22N+3%C2%B050'00.0%22W/@55.6930128,-3.7522143,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x8a6419491a8f0e4!8m2!3d55.583333!4d-3.833333?hl=en

  7. @9 It will be interesting to say the least if AAs strategy ‘plays up’ for the distant future as well as it has done so in the recent past. There are three ways to acquire players. So you either need to be good at drafting, shrewd in FAs, or try and win trades. I’d hypothesize that win win trades are long term bad for you and when you can WIN trades, that’s where the hay is made. What’s good for the game of baseball writ large may not be what’s good for your organization.

    Admittedly, in the era of maximum information, video et al, winning trades is probably less likely.

    I will say that I do have fears that the Braves are a bit of a one trick pony. Whereby signing very young players to lower than market value rates while simultaneously bragging about record profits and conversely appearing to be thrifty I’d have concerns that it be sustainable long term. The reason that I like FAs is because it’s the only one of the three that are mostly in control by you. 17 year olds and college players to a lesser extent are a crapshoot. Relying on winning trades in the modern era is very flawed.

    Spending on proven talent in FA is the surest things of the three. And that’s not to say that its a sure thing. It’s just the surest.

  8. @9: Yeah… outyears are a little cheaper as interest rates rise. Where possible, at the margins, you want to push money from now to later, within reason.

    But you can push money out into the future without changing the service time at all. Bobby Bonilla and Bruce Sutter are fairly extreme examples, but a lesser version of it is still available today. The length of the contract and the length of the payment stream don’t have to have anything to do with one another. So I don’t see that higher interest rates explain longer service time contracts at all.

  9. I take this as more ammunition for the “please don’t trade Fried” position: the Red Sox just DFA’d Jeter Downs, one of the key trade returns they got when they sold David Price and Mookie Betts to the Dodgers. Verdugo is a two-win outfielder, Downs is a man without a team, and the third throw-in, Connor Wong, is a catcher and utility player who will turn 27 next year and has a grand total of 70 major league plate appearances so far, hitting right around the Mendoza line; Fangraphs regards him as the BoSox’s 22nd-best prospect.

    The return was relatively unimpressive in part because Price was viewed at the time as a salary dump, but Betts was — and remains — something like the second-best player in baseball. The fact is, the Red Sox traded a player as transcendent as he is, who helped the Dodgers win the World Series the year he joined the club, and got back a bunch of nothing special; their strangely self-inflicted retool/rebuild on the cheap has mired the club at the bottom of their division.

    The Red Sox are exactly who we don’t want to be.

    @12, I’d love to dig in more with you! Let’s take a specific example: the Verlander contract. He got a two-year, $86 million deal. Steve Cohen doesn’t care about paying the luxury tax consequences, so this contract is going to cost him a lot more than $86 million.

    I think your point is that they could have worked out a salary deferral offer, like the Nats were so fond of, and give Verlander a two-year contract that still had a payment plan over eight years, rather than an eight-year contract that treated him as a member of the active payroll for luxury tax purposes for all eight years.

    I’m not sure if they worked out a deferral plan; it wasn’t reported, as far as I saw. But he had made it an eight-year, $86 million deal, Verlander would only look like a $10.75 million player on their payroll, rather than a $43 million player. Of course, they’d have to book that in every single year for almost an entire decade, which would reduce flexibility at that point in time. But the current interest rates certainly diminish the net present value of $10 million in 2030 dollars.

    What would be the major downside of offering a longer service term, rather than keeping the term short and just structuring the payout through a deferred payment plan?

  10. I live in the greater Boston market and what’s happening with the Red Sox is one of the more puzzling things I’ve ever seen a franchise do. The prevailing wisdom is that the Henrys have spread themselves too thin (Liverpool and Penguins) and for whatever reason, most likely fan loyalty and the Fenway factor, have chosen the Red Sox to run lean for a bit. They hired a GM that had a pHD in running lean so it really shouldn’t be surprising.

    The fanbase up here hates what’s happening but not enough to stop supporting the team, which is exactly what ownership wants.

  11. It definitely feels like the Henrys are pulling back from their erstwhile lavish-spending ways. And Chaim Bloom is, by all accounts, a very smart baseball executive.

    The problem is, they’re not doing it well. The moves don’t add up to an overall strategy that makes sense. The Betts trade was not merely catastrophic from a fan standpoint — trading away an all-time franchise icon because you’re afraid he’ll walk is gutless and tragic, but it’s also something that teams do periodically, just like the Nats did last year with Soto.

    It was also catastrophic from a baseball standpoint: you only get one chance to trade a superduperstar like Betts, and if you botch the return, you’ve dug yourself a massive hole. The Twins probably didn’t get enough back for Johan Santana; the Blue Jays most certainly didn’t get enough back for Roy Halladay. The Marlins didn’t get enough back for Miguel Cabrera. Regardless of the Murphy or Montas returns, the A’s may have done well on the Matt Olson return, but they got hosed on the Donaldson trade. (Come to think of it, they got hosed on the Tim Hudson trade, too.) All of those teams were burned for years by those failures.

    The Sox are both zigging and zagging. They’re not stripping down to the studs, like the A’s. But they’re getting lapped in their division all the same. Like the Cubs, they’re occasionally behaving like a team with money, as they just handed out $100 million to a Japanese outfielder who no one else in the industry seemed to value as being worth more than $50 million, and gave $32 million to Kenley Jansen. Why spend on a Closer™ when you aren’t planning to do better than .500 next year? Why pay both of those players roughly half the amount they refused to spend on Xander Bogaerts?

    What are they actually doing?

  12. I’m not sure there’s much of a difference between an 11 year contract and a 5 year contract with six additional deferral years. If the guy tanks later then you can DFA him and treat it like a deferral. Now a 20 year deferral is different…… The difference is the possibility you might want to keep the guy for 11 years however remote. So it seems to me only an advantage to the team and no risk for the player.

  13. @7–I have not taken even a little bit seriously the Fried trade chatter. But last week, I also thought the talk of trading for Murphy was fanciful, in the sense that it would never happen.

    Seeing a Miranda Lambert track is a good thing, but the John Prine tracks are remarkable. I never tire of the guy; he was perhaps the greatest American songwriter of the past half century. I assert that with some trepidation, given a certain Nobel Laureate from northern Minnesota and another guy who was a brilliant Green Beret Rhodes scholar helicopter pilot, but Prine’s work stands the test of time. Prine’s first album contains nothing but absolute gems, and the rest of his body of work also holds up very well.

  14. @17

    I’ve met Prine twice. He played at our local songwriter festivals several times. Dude was a gem of a human, too.

    I think Isbell is the best songwriter out there right now and “If We Were Vampires” might be the best written song in the last 25 years.

  15. Tfloyd and Ryan, love your taste. Don’t forget that
    Green Beret Rhodes scholar helicopter pilot dude was also a Gold Gloves boxer. What a remarkable life

  16. Prine, Kristofferson, Isbell: you boys are okay.

    Remember when Kris said Prine was so good they would have to break both his thumbs?

  17. Agree about Isbell. I’ll give him the prize for this millennium so far. His wife Amanda Shires (pretty great songwriter and musician herself) and my daughter were high school classmates. But apparently neither has any memory of the other from those days.

  18. #18
    I have a very hard time getting thru “Vampires” or “Relatively Easy” w/o completely falling apart. I mean, every time…

    And remember, he also wrote “Outfit,” “Goddamn Lonely Love,” “Dress Blues” & “Something More Than Free,” all of them staggeringly great songs. I have no doubt he’ll have more. Of course, it should come as no surprise that Jason completely revered Prine, who, yes, might have the greatest debut album of all time.

    Last time I saw Jason was this past Labor Day & he did a helluva version of “Pancho & Lefty,” not to mention a blazing Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ cover.

  19. I’m still not entirely convinced that Chaim Bloom is a good baseball mind. If your pitch is that you’re going to turn a franchise into the Rays, you need to be able to replicate the only magic trick that makes the Rays a show worth watching: Pulling pitching out of thin air. There’s no evidence at all that Bloom has any ability to do this, and he’s been in charge of that franchise for three years now. Has Boston produced any decent pitching since the Lester/Papelbon years? Eduardo Rodriguez, maybe?

    As for contract lengths, I believe there’s some language in the CBA that prohibits extremely long-term, low-value contracts as luxury tax evasion. (You can’t sign a guy to a 40-year contract at $1 million a year or similar.) As far as I know, though, it’s never been publicly revealed where exactly the line is.

  20. @13 and 14 I take great pleasure in the downfall of the Sawx. May they be a dumpster fire that never stops burning.

  21. Isbell, just great. It was this board that turned me onto him and the Drive-By-Truckers.
    Kristofferson is amazing, and I feel underrated yet.

  22. @25 Same here, would have never heard of Isbell if not for Braves Journal. Just one of many reasons that this is the best place on the web.

  23. If you’re still looking for that folk feel in mainstreamed country, it’s really hard but it does exist. Chris Stapleton (who’s actually a friend of mine as I taught his children for 2 years) is a remarkable musician, writes all of his own music (and a lot for other people too), and his albums have 0 misses on them.

    Another dude that’s hit the mainstream, but feels more like Isbell, Prine, and Stapleton is Tyler Childers. His albums also have no misses, but “I Will Follow You to Virgie” is prime Prine songwriting. Both Sturgill Simpson and Charley Crockett are also worthy of a listen.

  24. Musically, Sturgill is also Prine descendent (both are Kentuckians), but his lyrics have a somewhat more lysergic influence, shall we say. His 2nd album, Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, is tremendous.

  25. I’ve been really enjoying Orville Peck. He’s more of a balladeer, with a wonderful soaring voice. That’s not his real name, and he performs with a mask on, so there’s a good bit of showmanship, which is no bad thing. I always enjoyed seeing Hank III, another guy who likes wearing a mask on stage, for the same reason!

  26. @28. I second those recommendations Ryan. And Stapleton really gives the fans their money’s worth. Went to his concert this past summer. Had two good opening acts that each played at least 30 minutes. And when Chris came on he played another solid two hrs.

  27. I kick myself for missing Chris Stapleton’s concert here in Tampa a couple months ago. Speaking of uniquely well-written songs, his song “Parachute” is pretty dang good too. I loved his more stripped down live version of it here:

    @9

    https://blogs.fangraphs.com/why-are-teams-issuing-extremely-long-contracts/

    Alex, it’s funny that you sent me this article. I was turned onto what may be going on here by a noted RIGHT WING WRITER and baseball fan Dan McLaughlin, and he also used your analogy that the owners were spending like drunken sailors.

    What’s interesting about the dynamic here is whether owners will be considered spending crazy, therefore the players are getting paid more (which is great), or will the anti-owner crowd simply say, “Yeah, sure, they’re spending more, but not adjusted for inflation.”

    I thought it was interesting that the article also assumes high interest rates for a long time. Clearly the owners are. JonathanF, what say you? How long are we going to be having the highest fed rates since I was kneehigh to a grasshopper?

  28. Yeah, Baseball Crank and I don’t necessarily agree on politics, but the guy really knows his baseball. (Like George F. Will, of course!) And he’s an engaging writer. I’m glad he’s on the interwebs.

  29. This is a fun thread. Love Sturgill. Love Tyler Childers. Any Paul Cauthen fans out there? He just came through Atlanta.

  30. These writers talking about interest rates ten years out make me laugh a bit. If that’s a sure thing then you don’t have any excuses for not being a billionaire when that time comes. C’mon.

  31. Again, it is slightly disingenuous to make the argument that “the owners” are spending more. Five or six owners are spending more. The rest are backsliding, if anything. Basically the entire AL Central is in full-on “we tried” mode at best, as are teams like the Jays, the Orioles, the Mariners, and the Astros, and none of them can make the argument that they’re in a division with a juggernaut and shouldn’t even bother. Hell, despite all their bluster about not caring about the luxury tax, the Braves have not guaranteed a single dollar to a major league free agent this offseason. And even those freespending owners can’t give everyone in baseball the contract they deserve.

    Also, it’ll be interesting to see what next offseason’s free agent marketplace looks like. This year’s class is (was) fairly strong, but next year’s is basically Ohtani, Devers, and maybe Machado as impact players who could conceivably get a megadeal. (And it’s possible that the first two could get acquired at the deadline by teams looking to extend them.)

    In other news, Ehire Adrianza is back. The final piece!

  32. 5/75 for Benintendi, to the White Sox. Woof is that a substantial commitment for a guy who seems more like a complementary player. I really hope there’s enough left in the farm system to get an upgrade in left, because the Braves sure as hell aren’t doing it in FA.

  33. There’s still Conforto. But if the Braves believe Ozuna’s Sept/Oct numbers then they don’t need a LF. And FG makes it clear that Dansby is not much of an upgrade over Grissom. Looking at the 25 man roster, there aren’t many optionable players. Grissom is one which leaves the door open for Dansby. Tromp is also optionable which leaves the door open for an OF. I’d sure like to see a real fielder in LF with Ozuna/Rosario at DH and our second catcher on the bench.

    I wonder why the Braves traded for Park and not Downs. Doesn’t Downs have the better original pedigree?

    Feels like the Braves might be done for the season unless a big bargain comes along. FG does have them pegged as the 4th best team in the majors now.

  34. Ozuna can’t even put up a .700 OPS in winter ball. He’s toast. The Braves need a real left fielder, even if they don’t get one.

  35. @43: How long until the “he’s in nthe best shape of his life” stories?

    @32: Because I’m really old, I don’t even think of today’s interest rates as high. Ask me when the 10 year rate hits 10 percent.

  36. @45 I thought I was lucky to get 8% on my first. Now I’m at 3 1/8% and haven’t been able to justify refinancing in 10 years. I think my house will be paid off by the time interest rates get that low again. My gut tells me that baseline rates will be around 6-7% and we’ve been lucky to have rates as low as they were and our current expectations are artificially set low. This may be the same feeling the owners are getting.

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