Analysis

Mathieson May Be Called Upon in Absence of Lidge

Thirty-one days remain until pitchers and catchers enter the gates on Old Coachman Road, with actual nine inning games starting just 13 days after that. The calendar says we’re 2 1/2 months away from the beginning of the regular season, but who cares; it’s never too early to prognosticate.

As the winter slowly moves forward, there are a few things we know are certain.  Brad Lidge will miss part of Spring Training due to knee surgery, the bullpen is a shell of its former self, and a few youngsters will be called upon to solidify a unit that was mediocre a year ago.

With all of that said, power right handed reliever Scott Mathieson could prove to be an integral part of the pen in ’10.  If you’ve followed him, you know about the 96 mph fastball, but you’ve also heard about the two Tommy John surgeries.  His elbow has apparently healed quite nicely, which is easy to detect once you skim his stats from last season.

http://www.mlb.com/images/2009/11/30/NY7oxChy.jpgMathieson appeared in 22 games last year through three levels of the minor leagues, but hardly missed a beat.  He finished 4-0 between the Gulf Coast League, Clearwater, and Reading, allowing just three earned runs over 32 1/3 innings.  At 25-years-old, and after two major setbacks, the time could very well be now for the flamethrower.

Currently, there are three empty slots in the Phillies 2010 bullpen, plus with Lidge’s newest knee clean out, there may be a fourth when the season opens in D.C. No more Condrey, Myers, Park, or Eyre.  It’s shaping up to be a completely different crew, but one that can still be potent if all goes well.  Mathieson may be inserted into one of the vacancies, and rightfully so.  The Phillies have little money left to spend with arbitration cases looming, so the team must take a good, hard look at the youth in the pipeline.  Along with Matheison, Antonio Bastardo, Sergio Escalona, and several others have a shot at a spot.  To me, Mathieson provides the most intrigue.

If he can harness his power, come up with solid secondary pitches to compliment his velocity, and prove he belongs when spring begins, we may have the makings of a capable middle reliever.  Hard throwers that can mix and match their fastball with other pitches are rare.  According to Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com, Mathieson has added a changeup this winter, a great eye-altering alternative to his high-90’s heater.  The kid must be chomping at the bit as well, having missed two full seasons due to injury.

Mathieson’s control is an obstacle that bears watching once March 3 rolls around.  He walked 12 batters in his 32 1/3 innings, yet still completed his season with a 0.88 WHIP .  Batters managed just 17 total hits during his 22 games, a .149 average.  That tells you when he is hitting his spots, hitters can’t touch him.  However, he’s clearly allowing too many free passes, which is often the case when a pitcher has that kind of arm speed.

By all accounts, Mathieson is a hard-working, likable person, which makes you want to root for the guy even more. It would certainly be a boon for the bullpen should he land in one of the remaining positions. The Phillies need to build trust in their young arms, and with Mathieson and the others on the cusp, and with the bullpen in shambles, there is no better time than now.

Here’s to his long and winding road to back to full health, and hopefully, the major leagues.  Just 44 days until we see what Scott Mathieson really has in that cannon arm.

30 Comments

30 Comments

  1. Paul Boye

    January 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I’m so amped for Mathieson, I’ve been on that man’s bandwagon for months. Hopefully he comes through.

  2. WFC010

    January 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I always thought of Mathieson as a guy with tons of potential, but unlucky with the injuries. Glad to see that the Phillies are hoping to give him another try in the majors, because that potential to be incredible is still there.

  3. Dudley Monk

    January 17, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    fingers and toes crossed.

  4. Chuck

    January 17, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    We’ll see if he has what it takes….that’s what makes the Spring sooo exciting..

    With Lidge out at the start… as well as Romero for longer…this is even more of a critical possibility

  5. The Second John

    January 17, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    Mathieson is a huge question mark, but if he works out, then watch out! The Phills have a lot of young bullpen arms in their organization, which looks like it’s going to be helpful.

    I think the real question of the Phillies bullpen if (other than Lidge) is who is going to be the closer if Lidge isn’t healthy by opening day. I would think it is Baez, but it could be Madson, or even one of the young guys.

  6. fishdock

    January 17, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    Would love to see Mathieson at the Major League level, but I hope rushing him to the big show doesn’t affect his development. Now, I know its early for the bullpen to officially be deciphered, but what is going to happen with potential starter guys like Carpenter and Kendrick? Are they going to kept in the majors in the bullpen, or sent back to AAA to pitch for the Pigs?

  7. Chuck

    January 17, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Carpenter and Kendrick will go to Clearwater and compete for the 5th rotation spot.

  8. George

    January 17, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I’d hate to see Mathieson pitch in the majors too soon. His 22 minor league games last year is too small a sample to judge his recovery from such major surgery. I’d hate to see him overextending himself trying to get major league hitters out. If he continues to do well at Lehigh Valley, and can pitch in more games without problems, then they can bring him up.

  9. psujoe

    January 17, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Wish this young man well. I’ve been pulling for him big time. He would certainly be a nice addition. I’d hope they use him in limited spots at first.

  10. Bobby D

    January 17, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I’d love to see them go into the season with a solid 7th inning guy. Let’s hope Mathieson (if not him, anybody) steps up and cements themself.

  11. joedad

    January 17, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    I’m pulling for him but I think he will have a tough time making the team out of spring training. If he’s healthy, I think he will help out sometime during the year.

  12. Johhnyquest

    January 18, 2010 at 12:34 am

    Mathieson will eventually be the closer down the road if he is healthy. Hear lots of 94-96′ but also hear lots of 98-100’s Control was not bad actually for a guy sitting out two year. Will sell some tickets with that velocity

  13. Chuck

    January 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

    Let’s just get Scott Mathieson on the team first….before we start annointing him “the closer”..

  14. mike mike

    January 18, 2010 at 10:35 am

    I keep telling you guys this kid is for real. But still stumped at not keeping condrey for that little money. I really thought he pitched better than durbin, maybe I am wrong?

  15. Chuck

    January 18, 2010 at 10:43 am

    The problem is that Condrey spent a lot of time on the DL…

    Durbin…to me was more consistent…and that’s probably why he’s here…and Condrey isn’t.

    Mathieson may or may not be “for real”…he has the velocity….but unless he can LOCATE it…he’s not gonna be long for this team..

  16. The Original Chuck P

    January 18, 2010 at 11:18 am

    We need healthy bullpen arms… key word being healthy. Mathieson sounds great but he’s gotta be able to stay healthy. I trust his stuff and looking at what he has had to persevere through, it’s tough to bet against the guy’s heart/grit BUT if he pushes through something that he shouldn’t be pushing through, that’s not going to help us. I will say this… the Phillies have not earned my trust when it comes to player development/promotion (esp pitchers). They don’t have a great track record in that department… Happ being the exception but his success was really in spite of poor situational management.

    Is Romero ready to go?

  17. Chuck

    January 18, 2010 at 11:23 am

    I understand that Romero is actually behind Lidge as far as his being “ready”

  18. The Original Chuck P

    January 18, 2010 at 11:56 am

    Wow… I did not hear nor expect that, Chuck. Usually, no news is good news. We need him in a big way…

  19. Don M

    January 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    … I would comment on this, but I’m waiting for “Just Crushed” to come on and tell us how bad Amaro is again.. that Mathieson sucks.. and Amaro ruined the team by not having any bullpen arms for next year

  20. Chuck

    January 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    Don…

    Funny stuff.

    Give him….and all the crybabies time…the day is still young for the “Amaro haters” to make stupid comments..

    ____

    Original Chuck P….

    I’m trying to remember where I heard or read that….all the more reason to hope for Bastardo to step up…and be that lefty out of the pen.

  21. Chuck

    January 18, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    I actually read it on the Phillies website..

    The article was about Lidge’s surgery…but the point was made about Romero..

    “Amaro has been saying for quite some time that Lidge might not be ready to start the season. The Phils are also likely to be without lefty reliever J.C. Romero, who recently had left elbow surgery and is said to behind Lidge’s schedule.”

  22. George

    January 18, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    I’m not sure I agree with the player development/promotion assessment, Original Chuck P. Ruiz, Howard, Rollins, Utley, Hamels, Happ, and a few others who have since moved on seems like a pretty good track record to me. If anything, the front office is a bit cautious. That could be good in the case of a player like Mathieson.

  23. George

    January 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Just in case “Just Crushed” was actual just crushed (probably no such luck), I’ll say it for him: AMARO SUCKS, MATHIESON SUCKS, AMARO RUINED THE BULLPEN!

    I figure things just wouldn’t be normal without unthinking comments like these.

  24. Sarah

    January 18, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    I’m pulling for Mathieson, as well. It would be nice for some of the younger arms to get a chance.
    For all of you who have concerns about bringing him up too early, remember that he pitched for the Phillies in 2006. (1-4, 7.47 ERA with a 1.71 WHIP. However, 8 out of his 9 games were starts.)

  25. Jeff of Nova

    January 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I have like Mathieson since he was a starter…. If he is healthy the lets not let him sit in the Minors, his clock has already started at the prolevel. We need to trust our young arms. If we keep getting vets to fill the last so many spots in bullpen and 5th spot in rotation than we will never develop these pitchers

  26. Don M

    January 18, 2010 at 3:25 pm

    the veteran roster-plugs are part of their WIN NOW strategy though..

    i know what you mean though.. whats the difference between an aging starter with a 5+ ERA or a young guy gaining experience.. ???

    Mathieson won’t have his arm stretched out enough to be a starter, and they’ve wanted him as a closer since I can remember. . . I really want to see what happens with Savery this year.. its do or die time for his career I think

  27. mike mike

    January 18, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Savery to me is a wasted pick, his velocity and location were really bad last year,he has shown nothing yet to get excited about. This team sticks to the bugject you will have to trust mathieson, and wood or maybe a younger arm like rosenberg.

  28. shag beta sigma delta

    January 18, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    I hope that guys like Bastardo, Escolana(sp), and Mathieson get real shots at proving they can be reliable bull pen pieces, because you need cheap good bull pen arms. From little I have read elsewhere on the Mathieson kid, he is projected to be a back end of the bull pen guy. I think time up in the bigs with Madson, Lidge, Moyer and guys like that can only help his progress, along with the the young arms

  29. j reed

    January 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I say throw Mathieson out there…he’s 25. If he reinjuries the elbow after two tommy johns then there is somekind of underlying idiopathic condition that will take more time to figure out. Idiopathic conditions are difficult to address and can take alot years of trial by error treatment and therapies. He could be 27 at that point. Times a wasting. After two surgeries at such a young age could be a sign that we was not meant to pitch. Might as well find out now.

  30. George

    January 18, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    The problem with Mathieson isn’t lack of experience, it is lack of innings since major surgery. Secondary pitches are slower to return than fastballs, they’re needed at the major league level, and Mathieson probably hasn’t had enough innings pitched since his TJ surgery to throw them effectively.

    So far, I’ve read no official statements about Mathieson pitching in the majors at the beginning of the season. It appears the Phils are rightfully taking no chances. Maybe he should be allowed to pitch now, but if he did blow his arm out again, no one would know if it was “idiopathic” or just mismanagement of an injury. No other pitcher would trust the team’s medical or coaching staffs again.

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