New York Mets
2017 MLB Breakout Pick: Steven Matz
The New York Mets have been to the postseason two years in a row thanks in large part to one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. Headlined by Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and the ageless Bartolo Colon (who now pitches for the Braves), the Mets held opponents to just 617 runs in 2016, which was the third best total in the big leagues.
Young lefty Steven Matz also played a roll in that success to the tune of a 3.40 ERA and 3.39 FIP in 22 starts as a rookie before surgery eventually ended his season in August. Matz struck out 129 hitters and allowed 129 hits with just 31 walks in 132.1 innings. Overall, Matz posted 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings and 2.1 walks per nine, both of which were a touch better than deGrom and easily better than Harvey. Matz also might have been much better had he not been battling bone spurs in his elbow all season, which later contributed to shoulder issues.
From April 17 to July 29, Matz was at his best. Across 18 starts, the 26-year old was 8-6 with a 2.83 ERA and 105 strikeouts in 111.1 innings. In his final start on August 14, Matz pitched 7.1 scoreless innings. It was one of six starts in which Matz held the opposing lineup scoreless through at least six innings.
Like the aforementioned Daniel Norris, Matz has the benefit of pitching in a strong, deep rotation, which will help ease any pressure to be an ace that might come for a similarly talented pitcher on a worse staff. And, like Norris, a healthy full season in the big leagues would likely mean a true break out performance.
Another Name to Know: SP Robert Gsellman
One More for the Future: OF Brandon Nimmo