Maton threw a total of 43 innings with the Padres in 2017, showing glimpses of greatness, while other times he lost his composure during crucial times of the game. His FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching), which is one of the best measures in evaluating the strength of a pitcher, ended up at 5.09. That number is not horrible considering this was his rookie season, but he must reduce that significantly in the future, showing he can help the Padres win more games.
It’s worth noting that number did go up significantly from his three years in the minor leagues, where it never went above 2.89. He will need to be more consistent on the mound if he wants to get that number down next season. The majority of the runs he gave up in 2017 came from home runs that were late in the game when the Padres were trying to pull out a win. He would often throw too many of the same pitches to good fastball hitters, leading to home runs. Phil Maton needs to learn to keep his composure and prove that he can stay consistent over the course of a season. The 2018 season will be just that for Maton, as he will likely be a key setup man in this bullpen for the entire year.
Consistency with Secondary Pitches
Phil Maton consistently throws his high spin fastball up in the zone, which sometimes puts him at risk of giving up home runs as opposing hitters get used to this pitch. He must continue hiding his fastball and mixing in his slider to keep opposing hitters confused. In his rookie season, he was able to show us that he can do just that as he collected lots of strikeouts with his slider. The command on his four-seam fastball is an important aspect to him recording outs.
After following him throughout his first season with the Padres, the majority of Matons’ strikeouts came from his pitches that were high and up in the strike zone. His hot spot on the zone lies right down the middle in the upper part of the strike zone. Maton will need continued development with his slider/cutter and changeup because he can’t always rely on the fastball. His secondary pitches this season came lower in the zone, allowing more hitters to get contact and put the ball into play. He must learn to perfect these secondary and off-speed pitches to reduce the amount of hits and runs he gives up at the end of games. Hitting his spots with his secondary pitches and baffling opposing hitters with his fastball are the most relevant parts to his success as a reliever.
His rookie season with the Padres was a positive one, as he finished with a winning record (4-3) and a 4.19 ERA while solidifying himself a role in the Padres’ bullpen in 2018. However, Maton has yet to pitch for an entire season. In road games last year, Phil Maton’s ERA was 7.20 compared to his 1.57 ERA in games played at Petco Park. That shows that he must improve his pitching on the road in different ballparks if he wants to have success over the course of a season.
Many of the earned runs that he was tagged with came from home runs that were at crucial points in the game. As a major league reliever, you have to be lights out when pitching under pressure in big moments. With that being said, Maton is still very young and at the early part of his career. I think he will continue finding ways to improve his pitches and limit the amount of runs he allows.
I was very excited to see Phil Maton pitch in the big leagues after following him dominate his way through the minor leagues. After watching him pitch in person for the first time during spring training last March, I realized this guy has special stuff, and all it takes to become another great reliever in the San Diego Padres’ bullpen.
Phil Maton is assuredly going to have some role in the Padres’ bullpen next season, where I see him as the primary set-up man. The future is bright for Phil because of his very unique skillset. He should be a strong point of the Padres’ bullpen for many years to come. The Padres’ pitching coaches, Bochtler and Balsley, will continue working with Maton as many people see his potential to close for the Padres. Almost any pitcher that features a high spin heater and a variety of breaking balls will always have the chance to close. Don’t be surprised by any means if Phil Maton becomes the new closer for the San Diego Padres sometime in the next two to three years. He has all the potential and skills to become the next great closer to wear a San Diego Padres uniform.