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Ranking the Rockies: The wheels fell off for No. 14 Tyler Matzek this year

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Tyler Matzek followed up a promising 2014 with a career-threatening bout of wildness, and it's all questions moving forward with the lefty.

Tyler Matzek has to rebuild his career from scratch next season.
Tyler Matzek has to rebuild his career from scratch next season.
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The end of the 2014 season came in an unwelcome way for Tyler Matzek. If it had been up to him, he may well have chosen to continue throwing right on in to 2015, never stopping the momentum he had at the end of an otherwise forgettable summer of '14 for the Rockies.

In fact, in his final seven starts of 2014 -- and really, weighing all 19 starts he made that year -- Matzek threw well enough to give Rockies fans a reason to be optimistic about the team having possibly found a key piece of the rotation for some time to come:

Tyler Matzek G-GS IP H R ER BB K HR W-L S ERA K:BB WHIP
Final 7 starts, 2014 7-7 47.1 39 10 10 17 43 1 4-3 0 1.90 2.53 1.183

Flash forward one year, and just five starts and a disastrous minor league assignment later, Tyler Matzek is fighting for his Major League future after completely losing track of how to throw strikes in a Steve Blass-like bout of wildness.

Tyler Matzek G-GS IP H R ER BB K HR W-L S ERA K:BB WHIP
First 5 starts, 2015 5-5 22.0 21 10 10 19 15 2 2-1 0 4.09 0.79 1.818

Obviously, 19 walks in 22 innings jumps out; including three hit batsmen, Matzek averaged a free pass every single inning over five starts. The Rockies sent him to Triple-A Albuquerque to work some kinks out, and the wheels feel off even further: he allowed seven hits and seven walks while only recording three outs in his first start there. He was then removed from competition by the Rockies to "get him away from high pressure situations."

Later in the summer, he went to Short Season-A Boise, where he walked eight hitters in just 2.1 innings. The Rockies quickly took him out of that situation, too, and went as far as sending him home to California to clear his head.

Matzek returned to Albuquerque once again near the end of the season. While he didn't necessarily put together better numbers (he ended up walking 17 in 11.1 total Triple-A innings), he did talk to Tyler and Anthony over at Purple Dinosaur Podcast about his clear head and new mental approach going into the final month of the season with the Isotopes.

Tyler Matzek's 2016 outlook

It's difficult to speculate on Matzek's path; command issues as they relate to that bizarre combination of mental, psychological, and/or mechanical problems are incredibly complicated and extremely personal to each pitcher who suffers the problem. It's not as if one meeting with a pitching coach, or a sports psychologist, or one fan yelling at Matzek will suddenly make it all click internally.

That being said, here's what we know about the lefty: he's due the big league minimum salary next season, he won't head to arbitration until 2018, and he won't see free agency until 2021. He still has a minor league option remaining, and it's likely the Rockies will use it as they figure out what he can do in 2016.

What a trip, though: from starting the Rockies' home opener to this, just seven months later. Here's hoping Tyler Matzek regains his form well enough to be judged on the merits of his abilities, rather than fall victim to a psychological detour that won't accurately reflect the good things he's done thus far in his short career.