Is Steven Matz a Relief Pitcher?

Frank Jones

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Is Steven Matz a Relief Pitcher

Steven Matz, a former starting pitcher, has recently made a return to the St. Louis Cardinals as a relief pitcher. This transition has generated considerable interest among baseball fans and analysts, as Matz’s move to the bullpen could have significant implications for the Cardinals’ pitching strategy.

In this blog post, we will explore the role of relief pitchers and examine why Matz made the switch. We will also analyze Matz’s performance as a relief pitcher and discuss the Cardinals’ plans for him going forward.

Finally, we will consider the potential impact of Matz’s transition on the team’s overall performance and speculate on what the future may hold for this talented left-hander.

What is a Relief Pitcher?

In baseball, a relief pitcher is a player who is called upon to pitch in the game after the starting pitcher has been removed, or in place of the starting pitcher during the game.

Relief pitchers are typically used in situations where the game is close or in high-leverage situations, such as the late innings of a game with runners on base.

Unlike starting pitchers who generally pitch for several innings, relief pitchers typically pitch for shorter periods of time, ranging from a single batter to several innings. This means that they must be able to warm up quickly and be ready to enter the game at a moment’s notice.

There are several types of relief pitchers, including:

Middle Relievers

These are pitchers who come in during the middle innings of the game, typically after the starting pitcher has been removed. They are often used to bridge the gap between the starting pitcher and the setup man.

Setup Men

These are relief pitchers who are brought in to pitch in the eighth inning of a game, often with the intention of setting up the closer for the final inning.


These are relief pitchers who are called upon to pitch the final inning of the game, typically when their team is ahead and needs to preserve the lead. Closers are often the most high-profile relief pitchers and are valued for their ability to shut down the opposing team’s offense.

Overall, relief pitchers play a crucial role in baseball by providing teams with the flexibility to adapt to changing game situations and preserve leads in close games. Their unique skills and abilities make them an essential part of any successful team.

Steven Matz’s Transition to a Relief Pitcher

Steven Matz made the switch from a starting pitcher to a reliever for a few reasons. First, he struggled as a starting pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2020, posting a 9.68 ERA in 30.2 innings pitched.

Additionally, the St. Louis Cardinals already had a solid starting rotation, which made it difficult for Matz to secure a spot in the starting lineup.

As a left-handed pitcher, Matz has always had the potential to be a valuable asset in the bullpen. Left-handed relievers are especially effective against left-handed batters, who tend to struggle against pitches that break away from them.

By utilizing Matz as a left-handed option out of the bullpen, the Cardinals can maximize his effectiveness and help neutralize opposing teams’ left-handed hitters.

Another benefit of having Matz in the bullpen is his ability to pitch multiple innings. As a starting pitcher, Matz was accustomed to pitching for several innings at a time, which means he has the stamina and durability to pitch multiple innings in relief.

This makes him a valuable asset to the Cardinals’ bullpen, as it allows them to rest other relief pitchers and keep their bullpen fresh.

Overall, Matz’s transition to a relief pitcher has the potential to be a beneficial move for both him and the Cardinals. By utilizing his left-handed pitching abilities and his stamina as a former starting pitcher, the Cardinals can maximize his potential and help solidify their bullpen.

Matz’s Performance as a Relief Pitcher

Steven Matz has made a promising start to his career as a relief pitcher with the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first 6 relief appearances, Matz has pitched a total of 7.2 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks, while striking out nine batters.

This equates to an impressive ERA of 1.17, a WHIP of 0.78, and a strikeout rate of 10.57 strikeouts per 9 innings.

When compared to his performance as a starting pitcher, Matz’s numbers are starkly different. In 2020, Matz had a disastrous season as a starting pitcher with the Toronto Blue Jays, recording a 9.68 ERA, a WHIP of 2.57, and a strikeout rate of 6.75 strikeouts per 9 innings.

While it’s still early days, his performance as a relief pitcher has been significantly better than his performance as a starting pitcher.

One reason for this improvement may be that Matz is better suited to pitching in shorter stints as a relief pitcher, rather than as a starting pitcher, where he is expected to pitch for several innings at a time.

As a relief pitcher, Matz can focus on throwing his best pitches, such as his fastball and slider, for shorter periods of time and at maximum effort, which may be more effective for him.

Overall, Matz’s early performance as a relief pitcher has been impressive, and he could prove to be a valuable asset to the Cardinals’ bullpen going forward.

The Future of Steven Matz as a Relief Pitcher

The Cardinals’ plans for Steven Matz going forward as a relief pitcher are not yet clear. However, his early success in the bullpen suggests that he could continue to be used as a late-inning left-handed option, possibly even in high-leverage situations.

Given his ability to pitch multiple innings and his success against left-handed batters, Matz could also be used as a long reliever or as a setup man.

As for his potential for closing games, Matz does not have extensive experience in this role, having only recorded 2 saves in his entire career. However, if he continues to perform well in high-leverage situations, the Cardinals may consider using him as a closer if needed.

While Matz has made a promising start as a relief pitcher, it is still possible that he could return to a starting pitcher role in the future. However, given the Cardinals’ strong starting rotation and their current needs in the bullpen, it is more likely that Matz will remain a relief pitcher for the time being.

Ultimately, Matz’s future with the Cardinals will depend on his performance as a relief pitcher and the team’s needs as the season progresses. However, if he continues to pitch as well as he has so far, he could be an important part of the Cardinals’ bullpen for the foreseeable future.

Steven Matz’s Pitching Statistics as a Relief Pitcher


This table shows Steven Matz’s pitching statistics as a relief pitcher, including his earned run average (ERA), walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP), and strikeouts per nine innings (K/9) for each year that he has appeared in relief.

The table also includes a total row that summarizes his career statistics as a relief pitcher.


How common is it for starting pitchers to transition to relief pitchers?

It’s not uncommon for starting pitchers to make the transition to relief pitchers, particularly if they struggle as starters or if their teams need help in the bullpen. Some notable examples include Clayton Kershaw and Chris Sale, who both started their careers as starting pitchers before transitioning to relief roles.

How do relief pitchers warm up before entering a game?

Relief pitchers typically warm up in the bullpen before entering a game. They will throw to a catcher to get loose and prepare for their appearance. In some cases, they may also throw a few warm-up pitches on the field before entering the game.

Can relief pitchers pitch every day?

It’s not recommended for relief pitchers to pitch every day, as this can lead to overuse and increased risk of injury. However, some relief pitchers may be used on consecutive days if they have not thrown many pitches or if they are particularly effective.

How do managers decide which relief pitcher to use in a particular situation?

Managers will often consider a variety of factors when deciding which relief pitcher to use in a particular situation, including the score of the game, the number of outs, the number of runners on base, and the strengths and weaknesses of both the pitcher and the opposing hitters. They may also consider which pitchers are rested and available to pitch.

How do relief pitchers stay sharp when they are not pitching in games?

Relief pitchers will often throw bullpen sessions and simulated games to stay sharp when they are not pitching in actual games. They may also participate in fielding and conditioning drills to maintain their overall fitness and readiness to pitch.


Steven Matz’s transition to a relief pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals has been a successful move so far. As a left-handed option in the bullpen, Matz has been effective against left-handed batters and has shown the ability to pitch multiple innings.

His early success as a relief pitcher has raised the possibility of him being used in high-leverage situations and even as a closer in the future. While it’s still uncertain what his long-term role with the Cardinals will be, Matz’s strong start in the bullpen bodes well for his future with the team.

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