Scott Mathieson (Philadelphia Phillies Pitcher)
From: Vancouver, BC (17th round of 2002 draft)
I wrote a lengthy human-interest type of column on Scott Mathieson for PhillyBroadcaster.com. Since that piece was published, Mathieson has bounced around from the Phillies to the IronPigs and been shifted from the bullpen to the rotation. It’s an interesting move for a pitcher whose secondary stuff has never been very good. Pitching through the lineup several times with one pitch is not something one can do, even if that pitch deserves an 80 grade. For the first time since his move back into the rotation I had a chance to sit and watch Mathieson pitch with the scrutiny and level of attention he deserves, and my thoughts are as follows:
First, some general stuff. It was pretty clear Mathieson was working on things, rather than pitching like he would in an actual game. He’d have stretches where he’d only throw one type of pitch, even if it was a secondary pitch, and neglect the rest of his repertoire. He didn’t even start throwing his splitter until his final inning of work. At 27, Mathieson and the Phillies need a plan to stick to. He’s a clear bullpen arm for me but with a lack of rotation depth beyond what the Phils have in the major leagues, he might be needed to start should a rash of injuries make its way down Broad Street. It should be noted that the Phillies began to stretch Mathieson out around the same time they discovered Joe Blanton had nerve damage in his elbow. Phillies coaches likely have him working on all of his pitches during his starts as a last ditch effort to develop secondary stuff in case he needs to start in the big leagues.
Mathieson’s fastball is his meal ticket. He touched 98mph a few times in his start against Scranton but sat mostly in the 94-96mph range. Late in his start Mathieson either tired or was working on something with a little less velocity, either a new sinker or a two-seamer, and his velocity dropped into the 91-93mph range. He got a second wind later in the start and was back into the mid 90s. That velocity is great but the fastball is very flat. It has no sink. Mathieson’s Groundball:Flyball ratio was a paltry 2:7. It is a sign his pitches are flat and/or up. It won’t fly in the majors. Mathieson’s control of the fastball is about average. He threw 32 of the 56 fastballs he threw for strikes. It’s a viable major league pitch, but it’s not the hammer of god like the radar gun would lead you to believe.
Yikes. The mid to upper-70s offering is anything but tight. Mathieson threw a handful of good ones but he doesn’t often know where it’s going and it’s flat. It won’t miss bats and the lack of control means he can’t throw it for strikes early in counts. It’s probably too late to scrap it and re-try to emphasize his slider. It’s a dead-fish offering.
Here we have something real. Mathieson’s splitter sat 85-86mph with late sink. He garnered several swings and misses with it, and showed no variation in release point, arm angle or arm speed. I have little to compare the splitter to since I don’t see them too often, but it sure looked nasty enough to be an effective major league pitch to me. He threw nine splitters, eight for strikes, five of those strikes were swings and misses. Jesus Montero caught one that was about shin high and smacked it for a single, it was otherwise untouched.
Mathieson’s Other stuff:
He seemed to toy with a slider, a pitch he used to use a lot more. From my seating angle (Perpendicular to the batter’s stances down the first base line. I was focusing on the hitters) I could not see the two-plane movement one looks for in a slider, so I won’t comment on it at this time. Just knw he threw it sparingly.
We know Mathieson has had plenty of arm trouble in the past but he’s 27 now and there’s no use in being careful with him anymore. The delivery undoubtedly puts a lot of stress on the elbow and isn’t the most athletic of offerings, but like I said, there’s no use in trying to change it now. It isn’t so violent that it’s detrimental to his command.
All in all, Mathieson is an up and down guy at this point and for the foreseeable future.