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The Cardinals need to make a decision on Steven Matz

The left-hander has been struggling all season and is winless in his ten starts.

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Cardinals left-hander Steven Matz is having a tough start to his 2023 season. On Wednesday, Matz was looking for his first win of the year and probably thought he’d get it since he had some success against the Cincinnati Reds in the past—He was 4-0 in five outings (four starts) against the Reds.

Instead, Matz exited the game after only four innings of work in which he surrendered six runs on 11 hits, including a home run to Matt McLain, and only struck out two batters while also walking two. The Reds ended up winning the game 10-3 and Matz’s 2023 record is now 0-6 and he has compiled a 5.72 ERA.

On the latest episode of the Locked On Cardinals podcast, host JD Hafron discussed Matz’s Matz’s troubles and thinks it’s time for the Cardinals to make a decision.

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“Steve Matz has been a horrible signing,” Hafron stated, “I can point out games that he’s pitched good enough to win but those games are few and far between. Steven Matz pitching every fifth day has become a problem. It’s become a problem for this team and something needs to be done.”

If you look at Matz’s last five starts this season, the Cardinals did win two of the games—he didn’t factor into the decision in either game—but his main problem is length. Even in games when he’s only giving up one or two runs, he’s not staying in the games long enough to be a positive factor. He has not made it past the sixth inning all season and he’s only had one appearance in which he did not give up at least a run. His worst outing was Wednesday against the Reds but a close second was his April 10 outing against the Colorado Rockies when he gave up six runs in five and two-third innings of work.

Hafron said, “Either he (Matz) needs to get better right now, or maybe it’s time to switch up his role on this team.” The Cardinals are currently in the midst of a 19 games in 19 days stretch so Hafron doesn’t think anything will be done until this brutal stretch of baseball is over. Their last game before two rare off days is Tuesday May 31, and that’s when Matz is lined up to start again. Hafron wondered, “At what point do you just throw your hands up and go, ‘We gotta try something different.’“

Matz signed a four-year/$44M deal with the Cardinals in late November 2021 and he has not had a good start to that contract. In 2022, he was sidelined with a knee injury and when he did pitch, he was 5-3 with a 5.25 ERA in 10 starts (15 games).

Hafron believes, “At some point, winning has to take precedence over the front office’s bad spending choices. There’s a time when you just have to switch it up. No matter what you spent on the guy.” Hafron doesn’t want to give up completely on Matz but he’s seen enough to know that maybe Matz shouldn’t be starting games right now.

Matz said after Wednesday’s game via MLB.com, “I’m not pitching well, I want to be pitching better and I wish I was 6-0. But, there’s nothing I can do to change the past. Ultimately, I’ve got to focus on where I can get better and right this ship. But the numbers are what they are, and I can’t go back and change that.”

Because of that brutal 19 games in 19 day stretch, the Cardinals has been operating with a six-man rotation and when the stretch ends, they have four Thursdays in a row off. This means they can go back to a regular five-man rotation and someone has to be the odd man out. Either Matz or lefthanded rookie Matthew Liberatore.

Liberatore made his first start against the Milwaukee Brewers and earned the win on May 17. He also appeared in a 10-5 win over the Dodgers on May 21. Liberatore’s next start is this weekend against Cleveland. If he has a successful start and Matz’s start on Tuesday is more of the same, it seems the decision will be an easy one for the Cardinals.

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