It was 2009 when diehard Mets fan and Stony Brook product, Steven Jakob Matz was selected in the second round and signed by his favorite team out of high school. At 18 years of age the sky was the limit for Matz who was living out his dream. Then came the injury bug. In 2010, Matz was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow after experiencing elbow discomfort. The news was disheartening, but the young lefty remained defiant that he like many others can return in top form within a year. Unfortunately things did not unfold the way he and the Mets organization would have liked.
While throwing in simulated games a year after undergoing surgery, Matz once again began experiencing pain in his elbow and was advised to rest for the rest of the season. Matz would once again be confined to the sidelines wondering how and if his throwing arm would return to regular form. No longer a teenager, the 2012 offered the 21 year old a shot at redemption.
Despite being limited to just six starts in the Appalachian League, Matz went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA, while collecting 34 strikeouts in 29 innings of work. The impressive numbers were a huge step in the right direction, but his season was once again cut short this time due to shoulder tendonitis. An all too familiar feeling left Matz once again looking towards next season this time as a member of the Savannah Gnats.
Matz would end the 2013 regular season with a 2.62 ERA in 106 innings pitched with 121 strikeouts and even helped the Gnats win the South Atlantic League Championship. More importantly, Matz was able to stay healthy and progressed in altering his pitching repertoire and refining his pitching delivery. Matz earned himself a promotion to St. Lucie and only continued to flourish.
At 23 years of age Matz entered the 2014 season as the hidden gem in the Mets farm system. In 69 innings pitched, Matz struck out 62 batters and held a 2.21 ERA, which earned him a call up to Double A Binghamton. Things continued to look up for Matz as he pitched 71 innings holding a 2.77 ERA with 69 strikeouts. Matz went on to win the Mets’ Organizational Pitcher of the Year. 2015 was yet another hill to conquer as he would begin the year in Triple A as a Las Vegas 51.
Long known for a tough place to pitch, Matz made things look easy as he recorded a 7-4 record in 90 innings with 94 strikeouts and a 2.19 ERA. The impressive line of work finally earned the 24 year old a call up to the majors towards the end of June. The Stony Brook kid would arrive against Cincinnati in Citi Field with his family in attendance. The first batter to step in the box was Brandon Phillips who welcomed Matz by depositing a 3-1 pitch over the left field wall. Adversity once again at Matz’s door, the lefty remained calm and limited the damage.
Matz debut at the plate would go a lot smoother as he hit a double onto the center field warning track resulting in two RBI. If that wasn’t enough, Matz would go on to drive in two more insurance runs in the process. The Long Islander would stick around to pitch into the eighth inning with six strikeouts and three walks allowed. The dream has finally come true and it was only the beginning.
Despite suffering a lat injury later on the season, Matz firmly established himself amongst the Mets promising pitching staff that includes Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler and Matt Harvey. Matz was an important piece in the Mets reaching the World Series as he pitched impressively in October and continues to remain a focal point in the Mets success in 2016 and beyond.