The Atlanta Braves are finally clicking on all cylinders and riding a seven-game winning streak and 15 of 17 overall. This hot stretch has been fueled by a little bit of everything, but most importantly a turnaround by the bullpen. Since the All-Star break, the relief core has a stellar 3.59 ERA which is a full run better than the 4.71 they had through June.
One of the leaders of that resurgence has been Tyler Matzek returning to form. Matzek has had an up and down season overall. He allowed six earned runs over his first 11 innings in March and April. He then struck out 12 and walked just three in nine scoreless innings in May. Things fell apart for him in June as he allowed eight hits and five runs in 9 2/3 innings. Even more concerning, he issued nine walks during that span giving opponents a .405 OBP for the month.
Matzek was recently a guest on the Behind The Braves podcast and said that he made a mechanical adjustment in hopes of increasing his velocity, but it just didn’t work. Then it took him a little bit of time to get back to where he was during Spring Training.
On July 6th, Matzek walked three including the winning run against Pittsburgh. He faced four batters and didn't retire any of them. Since then he’s been lights out allowing just five hits and four walks over 14 2/3 scoreless innings. He has 18 strikeouts during that stretch of 15 straight scoreless appearances.
Tyler Matzek, 86mph Wipeout Slider. pic.twitter.com/K6mAohoH50— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 18, 2021
Matzek’s return to form has been vital because he is capable of pitching in any situation. His fastball is electric and his wipeout slider isn’t fair when he is on. For Matzek, it is about throwing strikes and he is averaging just over two walks per nine in the second half.
There have been a lot of factors in the Braves’ recent turnaround. Tyler Matzek has played a big part.