Braves: Have we reached the end of the line for Tyler Matzek?

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There probably aren’t five players with bigger moments in Braves franchise history than Tyler Matzek. The hard-throwing lefty made the ground at Truist Park shake following his dazzling performance in Game 6 of the 2021 NLCS a few years ago, coming in with the tying runner on and striking out the side. The Braves would go on to finally top the Dodgers in the postseason before comfortably beating the Houston Astros in the World Series, giving Atlanta its first championship in the four major sports since the Braves beat the Indians back in 1995.

Without Tyler Matzek, none of that would have been possible. He left it all out there that season, and I imagine he would even tell you he has zero regrets, but unfortunately, it appears to have come at a cost.

The very next season, Matzek suffered from a litany of injuries. First, it was shoulder fatigue, something that very well could have been attributed to his heavy workload the year prior. Matzek would return, but he never quite looked like the same guy, and right before the 2022 postseason, it was announced that he would need Tommy John surgery.

There were legitimate doubts of whether Matzek would ever pitch for the Braves again at that moment, but the Braves hung on throughout his recovery. If it were someone else without his track record, that might not have been the case, and we’re seeing why early on this season.

Matzek showed just enough to make the Opening Day roster, but the velocity is down almost a full five miles per hour from where it was when he delivered that memorable moment against the Dodgers on a chilly October night in front of a packed Truist Park. He’s not the same guy anymore, which doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of getting major-league hitters out, but to this point, he’s been one of the worst relievers in baseball.

Matzek’s appeared in 11 games this season and boasts an ERA just south of 10.00, and it’s not because he’s lost control of his stuff, like we saw when he had the yips early in his career. He’s getting hit and getting hit hard. His offerings aren’t fooling anybody and the loss of velocity on the heater is clearly proving to be an obstacle that he can’t overcome.

If Matzek was out there throwing 98-99 with these results, this might be a different conversation. But he isn’t, and the Braves have a plethora of relievers in Gwinnett with major-league experience that could provide the team much more. It’s never easy to part ways with a postseason legend, but that’s why general managers are paid the big bucks. It might not be much longer before the Braves decide to cut the cord on Tyler Matzek.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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