Braves: What’s going on with Tyler Matzek?

Braves Tyler Matzek

A postseason legend because of his heroics in October of 2021, Tyler Matzek’s return to the mound this year after undergoing Tommy John surgery has not gone as anybody initially hoped. The southpaw has appeared in 11 games for the Braves, boasting an unsightly 9.90 ERA, 5.96 FIP, and 1.900 WHIP.

But beyond the numbers, Tyler Matzek didn’t look anything like the Tyler Matzek of old. The velocity was down dramatically, over a full two miles per hour from its peak in 2021, when his average heater sat at 96 miles per hour. Eventually, the Braves would go on to place Matzek on the IL with elbow inflammation at the beginning of May, which almost seemed more like a courtesy, but it does appear there were some serious concerns about whether he had damaged the UCL again.

Soon after being placed on the IL, Matzek had an MRI on the elbow. Thankfully, the results showed the UCL perfectly intact; however, they did find a problem with his flexor tendon.

“So it wasn’t even on the (ulnar collateral ligament), it was on the flexor,” Maztek said, via Justin Toscano of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “So they were thinking (it was) a flexor strain, flexor tear, flexor something – something was going on with the flexor. That was the big concern. It wasn’t the UCL. The UCL graft looks fantastic. It wasn’t just general inflammation either. It was a specific spot on the flexor.”

As far as his potential return, Tyler Matzek doesn’t want to put a timetable on it.

“I don’t want to put a timeline on it because I don’t know exactly,” Matzek said, via Justin Toscano of The Atlanta Journal Constitution. “Once we get off the mound is once we really start figuring out how much work I’m gonna need to get to game-ready. We’re still in a build-up phase, and once we get to (throwing off a mound), then we can decide, ‘Okay, where’s the skill set at right now?’”

Obviously, injuries should never be looked upon positively, especially for someone like Tyler Matzek, who’s dealt with everything under the sun since the beginning of the 2022 season. With that being said, there almost had to be a sigh of relief when finding out there was in fact something wrong, which could be why he looked so pedestrian at the beginning of the season.

It feels unlikely we ever see the version of Tyler Matzek that sent Truist Park into a frenzy during Game 6 of the NLCS, and he won’t just be handed a spot on the roster when he’s deemed healthy enough to pitch again. But it does look like he’ll at least get one more shot to prove he deserves a spot in the Braves bullpen.

Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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