After losing over two months of the season to a somewhat mysterious elbow injury, Steven Matz's return has been a much-needed salve to a beleaguered rotation.
Coming off a scoreless effort in Washington, Matz dropped his ERA to 2.12 -- a career best -- and continued a season-long streak of starts of six or more innings pitched.
However, there may still be concerns ahead for Matz, the most notable of which is a huge drop in his strikeout rate. He's notched less than six strikeouts per 9.0 innings, well below league average, and nearly three full strikeouts lower than his 2015 and 2016 rates. His swinging strike rate is way down and contact rate is way up. In short, he's not fooling anyone. When he does throw out of the zone, he gets few chases and a lot of contact.
Part of this inability to miss bats may be a result of a very different pitch distribution. He's throwing hardly any sliders and when he does throw them he's averaging 2 miles per hour less than in prior years. Instead, his curveball usage has soared -- nearly a quarter of the pitches he has thrown all year have been curveballs -- despite the fact that his curveball isn't as sharp or effective as in prior years...