One of the most important swing players for the Rockies going into this season was Tyler Matzek. Another step forward from where he was in the second half of last season, and you have the fourth best pitcher in the division behind Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Madison Bumgarner. A plateau from where he was last year, and you have a reliable starter who could bring the Rockies one step closer to stabilizing the rotation. A step backwards and .... well, never mind one step backwards, we have to go about twelve steps to find where he actually ended up.
Patrick Saunders has that story in an article that's well worth your time:
There's some very telling quotes in there, especially this one from New York state licensed psychologist Dr. Richard Lustberg:
"A player like Matzek has a condition. He needs to be mentally trained — consistently. If you have a condition, you need to stay on a course of maintenance."
Unfortunately, nobody involved wants to delve any deeper into it than that, so we just have to wait until we see results turn around on the field to determine if any real progress has been made. Who knows how long it will take Matzek to regain his form - If he regains his form - But he lost it in freight train derailment fashion.
This is a guy who got better and better at every level since his disastrous 2011 in Modesto. After consistently lowering his walk rate each year and making noticeable progress each season, he returned back to the pitcher he was four years ago in the blink of an eye.
Here's a few personal take away's from Matzek's journey:
- Matzek's problems are more mental than physical. This is both good and bad.
- Matzek's ceiling remains higher than any pitcher in the system with the exception of Jon Gray. How he rebounds from this is crucial to the timing of the next success window for the Rockies.
- He's still just 24. It's easy to forget that fact since the Rockies drafted him six years ago and so much has happened, but Tyler Matzek is still extremely young and may have several great years ahead of him.
- He's fixed his problems before as a member of the Rockies organization, so it's very possible he does it again.
- Literally anything can happen with this player going forward. He's the joker in the deck. He could win a Cy Young Award before the decade is out or be so out of whack he doesn't throw a pitch in the majors again. At this point, I'd wouldn't be surprised by either outcome.
In other news, Nolan Arenado is really good:
Rockies w/ 10 runs batting AND fielding: Tulowitzki 07, 09, 10, 11 C Gonzalez 13 Walker 95, 01, 03 Helton 00, 02, 04 Burks 96 ARENADO 15— High Heat Stats MLB (@HighHeatStats) June 29, 2015
I'm not sure what's more amazing, the fact that Arenado's all around game is already on on the level of these players, or the fact that he's done this in a season before the calendar flips to July.
What's also important to note is that Arenado's hot streak at the plate really began last year a couple weeks after returning from his finger injury. In his final 48 games of 2014, Arenado hit 12 home runs and posted a .934 OPS. When you connect that to his first three months of this season, you get a 24-year-old player who's hit 36 home runs with a .948 OPS in his last 121 games (507 plate appearances).
When you take into account the defense he plays at third, he's on his way to becoming a top five player in the game.