Braves: Why Tyler Matzek sees his Tommy John surgery as a good thing

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Tyler Matzek was one of the many heroes of the Braves’ World Series run. He delivered in perhaps the biggest moment of the NLCS when he came on with runners on second and third and no outs and was able to strike out the side. It was quite possibly the loudest I have ever heard Truist Park, and he’ll always be a legend in Braves Country. However, his 2022 campaign was one to forget.

In 43.2 innings pitched this season, the 31-year-old posted a 3.50 ERA with a 7.4 SO/9. It was a bit of a drop-off from the incredible 2021 season. But there was a reason for that when the team announced Matzek would undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a partially torn UCL. And the Braves felt so confident in his recovery that the organization signed him to a two-year deal worth $3.1 million with a $5.5 million club option.

of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution recently did a piece on Tyler Matzek that revealed the surgery was actually a relieving moment for the relief pitcher.

“It was kind of just like, ‘Oh OK, well, that makes sense. This is something we can fix. That sounds good,’” Matzek told Toscano.

In the piece, Toscano notes Matzek’s velocity falling 5-7 mph, which prompted a search for answers. He and the team eventually found a 50% tear of his ulnar collateral ligament. And Matzek was thrilled to find out the primary source of his regression, believing his best is yet to come.

“I mean, I hope so,” Matzek said. “I truly do. I think I can go out there and pitch every year, like I did in ‘21 if I’m healthy. (Despite) this not being a great health year in ‘22, I can still hang my hat on (how) I went out there and competed. I didn’t have my best stuff and still did OK. Knowing that you’re out there fighting with one hand behind your back, I can at least look myself in the mirror and say, ‘Hey, I gave it (my) best (with) what I got that day.’ And yeah, if I want to be my best, I gotta be healthy. I’m just looking forward to being at my best when I’m healthy.”

Obviously, tearing your UCL isn’t a good thing, but it can be for a struggling pitcher who was looking for answers causing their dip in production. The Braves likely won’t be counting on Tyler Matzek returning in 2023 because of the lengthy recovery associated with Tommy John surgery. But don’t tell the burley lefty that; he believes he could possibly pitch in October next year.

“And I’m looking forward to possibly pitching in October next year. If that’s not a possibility, start refreshed and feeling good in 2024, and come out in spring training ready to rock and roll.”

Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire

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