Steven Matz struggled in his St. Louis Cardinals debut, and it turns out a blister on his pitching hand is the reason to blame.
If you look at the St. Louis Cardinals’ offense, and see names such as Nolan Arenado, Tyler O’Neill and Paul Goldschmidt, you would think that they would be a prominent name in the World Series conversation.
But they aren’t. They aren’t even the favorites to win the National League Central. And a lot of that stems from the lack of high-end talent behind Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty.
That’s why the Cardinals went out and signed Steven Matz to a four-year, $44 million deal this winter. But in his first start in St. Louis, Matz put up a clunker – seven runs, nine hits in three innings – while surrendering a 3-0 load in a 9-4 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates. But there is a reason for that, with manager Oli Marmol revealing the next day that Matz was dealing with a blister after two shutout innings.
Still, it raises questions about the state of the Cardinals pitching staff, especially with Flaherty on the injured list and it remains unclear when he will eventually return. The Cardinals do not view Matz’s blister as a long-term ailment, expressing optimism that he will make his next start, and it will be crucial that 1) he can prove that the blister is behind him and 2) that he steps up to be the pitcher the team signed him to be.
The Cardinals need him in the worst way, and there is reason to believe that he will be able to bounce back. Just look at his numbers from last season with the Toronto Blue Jays: 3.82 ERA, 144/43 strikeout-to-walk ratio, 3.79 FIP in 150.2 innings (29 starts). If they can get similar production from Matz this season, that will go a long way toward quieting any concerns about the rotation, and will help place them in the World Series conversation.
But the blister is going to be something to watch and could determine how the early part of the season goes for Matz and the Cardinals rotation.