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.