MY FAVORITE METS PLAYERS -# 7 - STEVE MATZ by Tom Brennan
I'm getting to you, Jeurys, I promise you...but I am going with the hometown kid, Steve Matz, who pitched at my neighborhood high school in Setauket, LI - of course, you ask, “Did I see him?”
Nope. If I followed Mack's Mets at the time, I would have known about him and checked him out...but high school ball was not on my radar screen at the time.
My brother was a hard throwing lefty named Steve, who once threw a one hitter in high school and K'd 17 before he blew out his shoulder, so a local hard throwing lefty with arm problems somehow felt like family. Neck, I threw lefty too...we lefties stick together.
Lastly, Steve Matz has an eerie likeness to a young Joe DiMaggio, at least to me. I just happened to see the attached picture in a book in a hotel lobby last week - you judge if he looks like the great Joe D to you.
I also like Matz because, like my own brother Steve used to, he visibly gets P-O'd when something doesn't go his way. He EXPECTS excellence and has a low threshold of tolerance for anything that does not smell of success. Guys like that tend to outperform.
He also has a well above average heater, a fine curve, and a big bat. Very athletic. He is my early pick for 2016 ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. He has a great group of young studs in the Mets rotation to compete with and that too will propel him to higher heights.
Some point to his injury history as a caution sign. The main one, his difficult Tommy John surgery battle, is a mere dot in his rear view mirror at this point. Some postulate after 2015 that he is perhaps injury prone. Well, 2013 and 2014 were very healthy years - I view last year as a fluke. So he is no Cal Ripken....who is?
Lastly, he pitched in dominating fashion in A ball playoffs in 2013, AA playoffs in 2014, and by and large in the major league playoffs and world series in 2015. He is TOUGH when the going gets tough. That...is....huge.
He has the potential for greatness. Perhaps another Koosman...maybe better. Number 7 on my list, only because 1 through 6 are so darned good...and he is rising. One of the guys I will carve out time to watch in 2016 for sure.
Next time, # 8, Jeurys, # 8, I promise I'm getting to you. I haven't gotten to Grandy yet, either, but he is too much of a gentleman to complain.