Right before the postseason began, the Braves received some devastating news. Tyler Matzek, who was left off the NLDS roster with elbow discomfort, was later confirmed to need Tommy John surgery, ending his season. Not only did it keep him out of the playoffs, but Matzek will also miss all of next season, leaving the Braves in an uncomfortable position.
Matzek is entering his second year of arbitration and is projected to earn around $2 million. Typically, the Braves wouldn’t hesitate to bring him back, but with them knowing that he will miss all of next season, they could choose to part ways with the 2021 postseason hero.
It’s not a foregone conclusion. The Braves could opt to hang onto him in hopes he will be able to return healthy in 2024. In that scenario, the club and Matzek could attempt to work out a multi-year contract, ridding of arbitration altogether. However, as much as it pains me to say, it feels more likely that the two sides go in different directions, which is unfortunate for both parties.
In 2020 and 2021, Matzek was among the best lefty relievers in the business, but it appears those postseason runs may have taken a toll on his body. His velocity was down to begin 2022, and he quickly went on the injured list with a “dead arm.” Matzek was effective when he returned, but he still wasn’t the dominant presence that was arguably the MVP of the Braves World Series run. The velocity remained down, and at some point late in the season, elbow discomfort emerged.
It’s an unfortunate reality, but it’s very possible we’ve seen the last of Tyler Matzek in a Braves uniform. If that’s the case, what a ride it’s been. In case you forgot, Matzek was a former first-round pick that got the yips early in his career. The Braves found him in independent ball and took a chance on him. The rest is history. He will be a legend in this city forever, and personally, he’s one of my favorite Braves of all time.
Photo: Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire