Promotions: Mathieson Finally Returns to Philly

Philadelphia Phillies placed LHP Antonio Bastardo (elbow) on the DL; recalled RHP Scott Mathieson from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

A 17th-round pick in the 2002 draft, Mathieson boasts low-to-mid-90’s gas, a sharp slider and a workable changeup. So why is the 26-year-old righty making his first big league appearance since September of 2006? Since Mathieson reached the majors in the summer of ’06, his career aspirations have been assailed by one injury after another.

The 6-3, 190 pound Canadian emerged as a quality starting pitching prospect in the Phillies’ system. Back in 2004, Baseball America noted that Mathieson had filled out his frame since signing and gained considerable velocity on a fastball that rarely left the mid-80’s in high school. Apparently dubbed “The Goose,” Mathieson ascended Philly’s list of farm talents — number 14 prior to 2005, sixth before the 2005 campaign and fifth leading up to 2006.

His performance improved with each promotion. As a 20-year-old in the Low-A South Atlantic League in ’04, Mathieson had 7.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and a 4.32 ERA. In ’05, he whiffed 8.6, walked 2.5 and had a 4.22 FIP in the High-A Florida State League. Mathieson posted a combined 3.20 FIP, 9.5 K/9 and 2.7 B/9 the following season while splitting the year between the Double-A Eastern League and the Triple-A International League. He was a fly ball pitcher, with GB rates under forty percent all along the way, but Mathieson’s velocity, K rates and improved breaking ball (he switched from a curve to a slider) earned him MLB innings in ’06.

That first foray in the majors was disastrous. Sure, the results (37.1 IP, 6.75 K/9, 3.86 BB/9, 7.47 ERA, 4.91 xFIP) weren’t great. But it’s what happened on September 2nd — he felt a “shooting pain” in his elbow — that made it a nightmare. Mathieson was shut down and underwent Tommy John surgery in late September.

While the then-23-year-old began a rehab assignment toward the end of the 2007 season, it was transient. Mathieson had to come out of a late-August game at Double-A Reading and had ulnar nerve transposition surgery that September. He didn’t throw a pitch in 2008, as he became twice Tommy John‘d that May.

In June of 2009, Mathieson returned to the bump as a reliever. Pitching mostly at Reading while also getting some work in rookie ball and at High-A Clearwater, he had 8.5 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 3.08 FIP in 32.1 innings. BA ranked Mathieson 15th in Philly’s system heading into 2010, saying that he could “be an asset as a set-up man if he can stay healthy.” Our own Marc Hulet noted Mathieson’s high-octane performance in the Arizona Fall League and ranked him at the tenth best talent in the Phillies’ organization.

Prior to getting the call, Mathieson was pitching well with the Iron Pigs — 29.2 IP, 10.3 K/9, 3.6 BB/9 and a mid-three’s FIP. Per Minor League Splits, his park-and-luck-adjusted major league equivalent line is 8.3 K/9, 4.75 BB/9 and a 4.90 FIP. Mathieson’s GB% remains under 40 as a reliever, a trait that could cause some headaches at Citizens Bank Park (three-year HR park factor of 114, according to the Bill James Handbook).

Mathieson likely won’t challenge Brad Lidge or an impressive Jose Contreras for late inning opportunities at this point, but he’s worth watching. If this persevering flame-thrower can stay healthy and limit the long ball damage, he could be a nice addition to a Phillies ‘pen that ranks a middling ninth in the NL in xFIP.



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A recent graduate of Duquesne University, David Golebiewski is a contributing writer for Fangraphs, The Pittsburgh Sports Report and Baseball Analytics. His work for Inside Edge Scouting Services has appeared on ESPN.com and Yahoo.com, and he was a fantasy baseball columnist for Rotoworld from 2009-2010. He recently contributed an article on Mike Stanton's slugging to The Hardball Times Annual 2012. Contact David at david.golebiewski@gmail.com and check out his work at Journalist For Hire.


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Barry Jive
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Barry Jive

According to several sources, Mathieson (at worst) sits mid-90s and at best can hit triple digits. Not sure where you got low- to mid-90s from.

http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/96634819.html
http://www.baseballamerica.com/blog/prospects/?p=7107
http://phuturephillies.com/category/05-prospect-features/mathieson-scott/

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