Once thought to be out for the 2022 season, the St. Louis Cardinals could soon get left-hander Steven Matz back before the postseason.
The additions of Jordan Montgomery and Jose Quintana at the trade deadline have solidified the St. Louis Cardinals rotation and turned it into a strength. And it appears that more pitching help is on the way.
The Cardinals, of course, expect Jack Flaherty to return sometime in the near future and contribute meaningful innings. But they are “quietly excited about Steven Matz’s recovery,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and is scheduled to throw off the mound in St. Louis sometime this weekend.
Matz, 31, returning would be a surprising development. There were strong indications that his season might be over, but it appears that he’s ahead of schedule. And if he does return, there are signs that he could return out of the bullpen considering 1) his arm isn’t stretched out enough to start and 2) the rotation is already four deep and will soon get Flaherty back.
Getting Matz back and having him pitch out of the bullpen would be a coup for the Cardinals. It would give them another capable left-hander in the middle of games and someone capable of eating 1-2 innings and perhaps as many as 3 once his arm is further built up. While Matz has struggled this season – 5.70 ERA in 42.2 innings – he has one of the teams highest strikeout rates (51 strikeouts) and that could be an X-factor come playoff time.
Is it what the Cardinals envisioned when they signed Matz to a four-year, $44 million contract this offseason? No. They saw him staying healthy, of course, and being a No. 3 starter behind Flaherty and Adam Wainwright. That hasn’t gone according to plan, but getting him back this season when almost all hope was lost on a possible return would ease some of the sting.
And it could be a major addition to a bullpen that needs arms, especially quality arms, come postseason time.