Let's talk about the recent resurgence of Cardinals' Steven Matz

Steven Matz was, simply put, not good last year, and got off to a similar start in 2023. However, with a strong stretch of work over the past few months, Matz has begun converting some of those detractors into believers.

Steven Matz faces the Chicago Cubs
Steven Matz faces the Chicago Cubs / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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Steven Matz is making his case to be a member of the 2024 rotation. Fans are apologizing for the way they've treated him in the past, and he's looking dominant on a regular basis. Yet, Matz was in the bullpen a month ago. Many wanted him cut over the offseason. His contract has been repeatedly cited as a blunder by the Cardinals' front office. How did we get here, and how can we untangle this garbled mess of frustration, disappointment, and affection? What happens next for Steven Matz? To answer these questions, we'll have to start from the beginning of Matz's tenure in St. Louis.

Doomed from the start?

Steven Matz has had a rough time with the Cardinals. Matz and the Cardinals agreed to a four-year deal worth 44 MM prior to the 2022 season. He was coming off of a strong season in Toronto (14-7 3.82 ERA) and the contract seemed reasonable. Matz was a talented coin flip. He had trouble staying healthy but had tantalizing potential. Matz made his Cardinal debut on April 10th against Pittsburgh. It couldn't have been any worse. He pitched just three innings, and allowed a whopping seven runs on nine hits. His five strikeouts were lost in the shuffle. After just one start, Matz was already building a reputation as a bust.

He was better after that, pitching to a 2.18 ERA over his next four starts, three of which were scoreless. But he had another implosion in early May. This time, Matz completed just two frames, allowing eight runs, though there was some bad luck involved, as the opposing lineup managed just five hits. Three of those five left the yard and Matz's ERA climbed over 7.00. It was, in the minds of many fans, official. He was a horrible signing. After two more solid but unspectacular starts, Matz was knocked out of his 10th start with an injury to his pitching arm. He would miss over two months of action.