Hype alert! Mets prospect Steven Matz compared to Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner


This story from John Harper of the Daily News about Mets pitching prospect Steven Matz is pretty good. It talks about his recovery from Tommy John surgery, some odd advice from Dr. James Andrews that proved to be a breakthrough for Matz and gives a good introduction of Matz to people who don’t know the guy very well.

But, for better or for worse, fans tend to gravitate toward comps. Is this guy as good as that other guy? Does he pitch more like Shalbotnik or more like Smedley? GIVE ME A NAME! This despite the fact that your better scouts and personnel people will tell you that comps obscure more than they reveal and that providing them creates unrealistic expectations.

So, when you see the comps tossed out about Matz, yeah, you know it may be tough for him to meet expectations, even if he’s excellent:

Certainly there is something about Matz that inspires visions of greatness. Last year Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen compared him to another lefty, one Clayton Kershaw, raving about how explosively the ball comes out of his hand.

And now Frank Viola, the Mets’ Triple-A pitching coach whom Matz credits for teaching him the mental part of pitching when they were both in Class-A Savannah in 2013, invokes the name of the lefty who all but singlehandedly won the World Series for the Giants last season. Yep, Madison Bumgarner.

Worth remembering at this point that Matz turns 24 in May. When Clayton Kershaw was 24 he already had a Cy Young Award, a pitcher’s triple crown and 716 major league innings under his belt. Madison Bumgarner was 24 for most of last season. A season in which he collected his third World Series ring and crossed the 1,000 innings pitched mark if you include the postseason.

Obviously Dan Warthan and Frank Viola know that and are not saying that Matz is the equal of two of the best pitchers in baseball. But, no matter what Matz does, there will now be people who say “hey, he was supposed to be our Clayton Kershaw!” or “he’s no Madison Bumgarner!” Which is a damn shame, but that’s how this kind of crap tends to go.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”