Steven Matz’s last two starts proves that he can singlehandedly change St. Louis Cardinals rotation.
After a bad first outing with the Cardinals, in which he allowed seven runs in three innings, Steven Matz did not get off to the start he wanted in St. Louis. It was later revealed that he was dealing with a blister, which gave both the team and Matz optimism that he would quickly bounce back.
That’s exactly what he has done.
In his last two outings, Matz has combined to pitch 10.2 innings and allow only one run, 10 hits while striking out 12 and walking only two hitters. His ERA is still 5.27, but that’s significantly down from the 21.00 it was after his first start. And if this is a sign of things to come, the Cardinals’ rotation would be in much better shape than it looked just a week ago.
The common theme from Matz’s last two starts is that he has played into the Cardinals’ greatest strength: infield defense. He has recorded 11 ground ball outs, including seven in his recent start against the Cincinnati Reds, while striking out six batters. It’s a recipe for success and why the Cardinals identified him as one of their top targets this winter.
Matz has also shown an ability to hum his fastball – it reached 95 mph multiple times on Friday night – and to also command his changeup and curveball in different situations. It’s kept hitters off balance and, combined with the Gold Glove defense behind him, makes him a very dangerous weapon. And if he continues this pace, the Cardinals could potentially have a very strong trio atop their rotation with Adam Wainwright and Jack Flaherty when he comes off the Injured List.
For now, however, Matz continues to prove that his first outing was an anomaly. If he continues this current pace, he could soon prove to be one of John Mozeliak’s best rotation additions as president of baseball operations.