The Atlanta Braves are starting to take a longer look at a non-roster invitee who might have a chance to complete a comback that's been a long time coming.
How long does it take for a pitcher to truly find his command? Sometimes a decade? The Atlanta Braves are wondering now if they are in the right place at the right time with a former first round pick who’s turning heads this Spring... and it’s not Sean Newcomb we’re talking about..
So who is this Tyler Matzek and what is going on with him in Florida right now?
It may be nothing… but it may also be worth taking a minute to get to know somebody who’s got a chance to cross the goal line in a long journey of perseverance.
When you’re drafted 11th overall in the first round of a draft, teams expect big things from you. That was the case for Matzek in 2009, taken by the Rockies out of Capistrano Valley HS (Mission Viejo, CA) as an 18 year old.
At that time, Matzek was groomed to be a starter, and despite some evident control issues (generally walking around 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the batters he struck out), Colorado moved him through their system methodically.
It was June 11, 2014, then, when he seemed to be putting things together enough to get a call-up start in Denver against… yep, the Atlanta Braves.
The 6'3"/210 left-hander Matzek beat Julio Teheran that day, giving up 2 runs over 7 innings and walking nobody. He stuck with the team and made 19 total starts to a 4.05 ERA… more importantly keeping a 2:1 ratio of strikeouts to walks over 117-2/3rds innings.
That didn’t last. In 2015, his ERA didn’t change much, but frustration did. He walked batters at the rate of 7.8 per game. A 1.818 WHIP isn’t going to cut it. He was sent down… and got worse from there.