Tyler Matzek once rolled his ankle. It wasn’t a big deal. Maybe a 2 week setback, tops. And yet, the ankle rolling put him on a 6 year journey of resilience that peaked with the greatest relief pitching appearance in postseason history. You cannot convince me otherwise.
What we knew about Matzek coming into this season scared me a bit. His journey through the yips was softened a bit in 2020 as there were no fans in the stands. Less pressure to perform. However, 2021 showed us fans that Matzek is here to stay, the yips, which are the omnipresent demons, are stacked away somewhere in a dark corner of Matzek’s mind, and Matzek will be a Brave for many a year.
There’s a stat out there that just doesn’t get enough air time. Inherited runners scored is a tell-tale sign of the real reliever that is on the rubber. We Braves Journalers even coined the term “Grybo” for allowing inherited runners to score. For Gryboski’s career, he allowed 34.4% of inherited runners to score. Honestly, this isn’t good, but it’s hardly terrible and, like Jonathan F. discussed here, maybe we should rename it (and might I suggest “Campout”). This isn’t about Rick Camp or Kevin Gryboski. Neither could hold Matzek’s jockstrap. In 2021, Matzek was extraordinary with runners on, only allowing 11.1% of inherited runners to score. For those that like things concrete, 3 of 28 scored.
Matzek’s season didn’t start near as brilliantly as it ended. Like most of the team, Matzek was at his worst in April as he carried a 4.91 ERA . The problem wasn’t strikeouts. He was still sittin’ em down with a whopping 18 in 11 innings. It was the walks…8 of them. That was enough to get me watching closely. Was 2020 a fluke? Was Matzek, once again, plagued by the anxiety that derailed his career in 2015? Oh ye of little faith. That answer was no.
From May on, Matzek was brilliant, carrying a 2.08 ERA. The walks were more than I’d like to see on the year (5.3/9) but the end result wasn’t fluky. In the postseason, he hit hyperdrive and was superb. In 15.2 innings, he struck out 24 while boasting a 1.72 ERA. Add that to the regular season numbers and you get ELITE.
I don’t really have much else to say. This’ll do just fine.