Prior to the lockout last off-season, the St. Louis Cardinals signed left-handed pitcher Steven Matz to a 4-year, $44 million deal to help stabilize the rotation and fill the innings void that they experienced during the 2021 campaign. Unfortunately for both the Cardinals and Matz, he was struck with the injury bug and was little help to the team in 2022.
In his 48 innings last season, he posted a 5.25 ERA, which made him seem to be a major letdown even when he pitched. But if you actually break down the starts he made, the small sample size really penalized him. Over the 10 starts he made in 2022, 6 of those starts were 5 or more innings where he gave up 3 or fewer runs. When the Cardinals brought him in, they were hoping for an arm to go 5-6 innings and give them a chance to win the game. His ERA spiked this season as he had two starts go 3 or fewer innings with 7 or more runs given up.
But what most people see is an injury plagued season and ugly ERA, many seem to be down on the 31-year-old, or at least not very confident in what he could bring to the table in 2023 for the club. Before coming over to the Cardinals, he posted a 3.82 ERA in 150.2 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays. While no one should expect him to headline the front of a rotation, he should be a valuable member of the rotation in 2023.
Steven Matz deserves more respect from Cardinal fans than he is currently getting. First impressions can be hard to shake, but I am confident he will have a much healthier and productive 2023 than we got in his debut season. Matz has the ability to give St. Louis quality starts all season long and help lengthen their rotatoin in a way they have struggled to in recent seasons.
The hope this year is that this five-man group, or maybe even some of their young arms like Gordon Graceffo, can give the Cardinals stable pitching up throughout the season and allow the front office to focus on acquiring an ace rather than looking to fill innings. Matz is going to be a big part of that equation.