Atlanta Braves lefty Tyler Matzek undergoes UCL replacement surgery

Atlanta Braves reliever Tyler Matzek undergoes UCL replacement surgery. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
Atlanta Braves reliever Tyler Matzek undergoes UCL replacement surgery. Mandatory Credit: Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports /

Atlanta Braves hero of the 2021 postseason had a rough year capped by UCL replacement surgery today and a year to 18 months of rehab ahead.

The Atlanta Braves announced that Tyler Matzek would undergo UCL replacement (Tommy   John) surgery today. Recovery time for UCL replacement is at least 12 and, more recently, up to 18 months, meaning the Braves won’t have their Roberto Clement Award nominee and a cornerstone of the bullpen back until 2024.

Atlanta Braves find a star in Matzek.

The Atlanta Braves took a flyer on Tyler Matzek in 2020, and he rewarded them by pitching to a 2.79 ERA in 29 innings of what passed for regular-season baseball. He followed that with 8-2/3 shutdown innings of 1.04 ERA ball in postseason play. The Braves liked what they saw and gave him a spot on the 2021 roster.

Matzek appeared in 63-games, pitching to a 2.57 ERA and striking out 70, but during the postseason run to the World Series, Matzek became a household name.

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Matzek’s dominant postseason

He pitched in all four games of the NLDS, throwing 4-1/3 innings of shutout ball, and followed that by appearing in five NLCS and four World Series games. He pitched well in every game, but he was magnificent in game six on the NLCS.

Matzek entered the game in the seventh with two men on, no one out, and:

  • Struck out Albert Pujols swinging  on four pitches,
  • Struck out Steven Souza looking on four pitches, and
  • Struck out Mookie Betts looking on three pitches.

He followed that magic trick by pitching a 1-2-3 eighth inning, throwing only 11 pitches, including a three-pitch strikeout of Cory Seager.

He capped that by throwing 5-1/3 innings in the World Series, helping the Atlanta Braves to a World Series Championship.

What goes up must come down.

Matzek’s 2022 season wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t as sharp as he’d shown in 2020 and 2021. He threw 43-2/3 innings over 42 games while pitching to a 3.50 ERA.

His slightly higher ERA wasn’t as concerning as his drop in K/9 from 11.0 to 7.4. It wasn’t a surprise when the Braves placed Tyler on the IL and left him off the postseason roster in favor of Dylan Lee.

That’s a wrap

Tyler Matzek is more than a likable man and dependable Atlanta Braves reliever. His dedication to telling the story of his fight with depression shines a light on something too often ignored.  This work off the field earned him a nod as the Braves’ nominee for the 2022 Roberto Clemente award.

Next. Play your ace!. dark

We here at Tomahawk Take wish Tyler a setback-free rehab and look forward to seeing him back in the bullpen in 2024.