|Plenty to be excited about for Rockies fans with Matzek.|
The Colorado Rockies came into Monday night's game riding a five game winning streak. The streak started with Tyler Matzek's Major League debut last Wednesday when the rookie pitched into the 8th inning, propelling the Rockies to a victory.
After Matzek's performance, the Rockies took the finale against the Braves, then amazingly went on to sweep the San Francisco Giants in their home ballpark, something that the Rockies hadn't done since September of 2008. Winning three in a row in that park was remarkable enough for the Rockies, however, if someone had only watched the first seven innings of each game, they probably would have believed that the Giants were actually the ones who completed the sweep.
Late rallies in three straight games helped the Rockies to very improbable wins. The fact that they showed mental toughness and never gave in was a huge sign of maturity compared to the Rockies teams that have dealt with adversity in recent years.
The Rockies sent Matzek back to the mound to continue the streak on Monday. Pitching just an hour away from where he grew up, the Rockies lefty was looking to build on his first start. It wasn't meant to be, however, as Matzek labored through five innings, giving up three runs on 10 hits. He walked two without striking out a batter.
It may have been an alright night to not have his best stuff. It came on a night when the Rockies offense simply couldn't get anything going. Colorado logged just four hits in the game, and only one run. It would have taken a nearly perfect outing from Matzek for the Rockies to have come away with the victory.
Monday night was overall very sloppy. Charlie Blackmon committed two errors in the same inning, one resulting in a little league style inside-the-park home run, putting the Dodgers on the board early. Frankly, the game looked like so many other games in which the Rockies have played at Dodger Stadium in their history.
It is often said, his line doesn't really tell the story about how Matzek pitched. That is certainly the case for Monday night. In fact, if there was a silver lining for the Rockies it was that Matzek showed how well he handles adversity. He wasn't helped out by his defense, his offense, or home plate umpire Gerry Davis.
Matzek didn't have the same stuff that he had in his debut. He wasn't quite as sharp with any of his pitches. However, he didn't give up too many big hits. The Dodgers found holes with where they were hitting the ball and even though some balls were hit very well, Matzek never truly let the tough situations get the best of him.
For a guy making his second big league start, it would be very easy for him to let things get out of control on the mound and let a bad inning turn into a terrible inning. Instead, Matzek never let a few bad things faze him. He kept his composure. He didn't seem like he was overwhelmed by any situation, or find it too difficult when he faced some of the league's biggest names.
Many promising prospects have found themselves on the mound for the Rockies and suddenly lost it. The Rockies have long needed a prospect whom they drafted, who truly does have ace-type stuff and can keep his composure on the mound. When he was drafted, the Rockies were excited that he might be that possibility. On Monday, he showed the talent that made him a first round pick. His fastball, from the left side, sits in the mid-90's and he possesses a slider that has plenty of movement.
At this stage in his career, throw out the wins and losses. This is about growth for Matzek. Frankly, as much as Rockies fans are hoping that this team can make a run to the postseason, the reality is, this might be the year in which the ultimate goal for this franchise is getting many of their prospects Major League experience and making sure they are gain enough maturity to be able to handle tough situations in 2015.
The composure that Matzek was able to keep on the mound was a great sign for the future of the Rockies. In addition to his composure is the fact that, while he didn't have his best stuff, he gave his team a real chance to win. There are going to be plenty of times when the Rockies offense will be able to cover a three-run outing. While he only went five innings, if he were able to stretch that one more and give up the same number of runs, he would be putting the Rockies in a very good spot.
The key for Rockies fans is to alter expectations. There is going to be a learning curve for the young kids getting their feet wet like Matzek and Eddie Butler. While both pitchers may evolve into ace-type pitchers, the reality is, that won't happen overnight. There has to be a certain level of expectation for growth that will come at the big league level. In addition to the fact that any prospect will require some growth at the big league level, these prospects are being asked to come up to the big league level earlier than they would have been had the Rockies not had so many injuries.
It would be easy to be disappointed with Matzek because of the results. However, the reality is, the Rockies should be very excited from what they are seeing. This kid has dealt with adversity. He took the long road to the big leagues, and he seems like he has to composure to go with his stuff, which is certainly big league worthy.
Follow me on Twitter @RockiesReview. Like me on Facebook, search "Rockies Review"