Braves: Brian Snitker on Tyler Matzek’s return from injury

MLB: OCT 11 NL Division Series Brewers at Braves

One of the more exciting aspects Braves fans have to look forward to this season is the return of Tyler Matzek.

Matzek has had one of the more bizarre career arcs of any player. Drafted 11th overall in the 2009 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies, he eventually worked his way up to the majors as a starting pitcher, experiencing some success in his first season. However, the following season, Matzek caught a case of the yips and couldn’t find the strike zone. Not long after, he was released, but his control problems followed him for years.

That is until Matzek seemed to find the love of the game again with the Texas AirHogs in the Independent League. After impressing, the Braves signed him to a minor-league contract near the end of the 2019 season. The rest, as they say, is history.

Tyler Matzek made the Braves Opening Day roster in 2020, quickly becoming one of Brian Snitker’s most reliable relievers and delivering one of the most memorable moments in franchise history during Atlanta’s 2021 World Series run.

Heading into the 2022 season, Tyler Matzek was regarded as one of the league’s best set-up men, just a few years removed from Indy Ball. It’s one of the best comeback stories in baseball, but it came to a screeching halt when Matzek learned he needed Tommy John surgery just before the start of the postseason.

Despite being injured, Matzek has become even more infamous for his witty remarks on Twitter, and he’s been an integral piece to the Braves clubhouse. As we saw last year when the Braves came back to tie the Mets after Pete Alonso was caught on camera following a home run yelling, “Throw it again,” to Bryce Elder earlier in the game.

Fast forward to today, the Braves have arrived in North Port, Florida for Spring Training, and nobody is itching to get back out on the mound more than Tyler Matzek, which Brian Snitker discussed in his first media appearance of the new season.

The hope is that Tyler Matzek can return to form and once again be one of the league’s dominant left-handed relievers. If that happens, there’s little doubt Atlanta’s relief core will be one of the best in baseball.

The time off should have allowed Matzek’s entire body to heal, not just the elbow. Which is significant because his velocity was down even before he needed Tommy John surgery due to other lingering issues. It’s not abnormal for pitchers to come back better than ever following a lengthy layoff, but I’m not sure anyone knows — not even Tyler Matzek — what to expect when he toes the rubber for the first time at Spring Training.

Photo: David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire

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