Q&A With Matt Peterson

The recent humidity at NYSEG stadium has rapidly turned it into a hitter's park and balls are definitely carrying better than they did earlier in the season. The Mets will close out the series against Norwich Wednesday night and then go on a seven game road trip, their longest of the season. Dan sat down with Matthew Peterson for a Q&A session before the game.

Matt Peterson should be the first starter on that road trip and the Mets will look to him to right the ship. Peterson has been an enigma this season. He started off brilliantly and had a Mike Mussina type curveball working for him, but lately he has lost control of his curve and got roughed up in his last start.

Matthew Peterson is still one of the top prospects in the Mets organization and with the exception of Kazmir he may be the pitcher with the most potential. He has a good fastball which he throws in the mid 90's and uses it to set up a curveball. His curve is clearly his best pitch. It is a twelve to six curveball and has very tight spin. Depending on how Peterson progresses he could be a contender for a starting spot at Shea as soon as 2006. Before Tuesday's game I had the chance to sit down with Peterson.

NYF: So you have a Fastball, Curveball, and a Changeup?

Peterson: That's right.

NYF: That's a four seamed fastball, if I am not mistaken?

Peterson: That's right.

NYF: Do you throw a cut-fastball?

Peterson: Right now I'm working on a slider. Sometimes it will slide and sometimes it will cut.

NYF: So it breaks in toward righties and away from lefties?

Peterson: Exactly.

NYF: How long have you been working on that pitch?

Peterson: I worked on it a little bit last year in the Arizona Fall League and in spring training this year. I don't throw it much. Just every now and then to mix up hitters.

NYF: With all the rain delays that you guys have had in the last couple of weeks, your starts have been pushed back. Has that messed up your rhythm or timing at all?

Peterson: I don't know if it has messed me up. I know it gives me more time to recover but I think too much time to recover can be bad because you can get a little too fresh and get a little wild. You may not be in command of all your pitches.

NYF: On days when you're not pitching, what do you do to stay ready for every fifth day?

Peterson: I pitch out of the bullpen two days afterward and do a little bit of running and throwing. Basically that is about it. We don't too much strenuous stuff that might wear us out.

NYF: What do you do to prepare for games with regards to knowing your opponent? Do you sit down with Reuss and Huber and go through the batters or do you play it by ear?

Peterson: We don't have very much information on the hitters so I kind of go on my own. Whatever you have that day is what you have to pitch with. That's how you base how you're going to pitch guys. If something is working, you keep going back to it. If it's not working then you got to switch things up.

NYF: So you make a lot of adjustments during the game?

Peterson: Right, I mean you can go over a game report and realize that the other team hits a certain pitch well, but if that's the only pitch you got, then that's the one you have to use.

NYF: On days when you're not pitching and your watching your teammate and he doesn't have his best fastball or his best curveball or his best command or he's in a bases loaded jam, do you ever sit behind the plate going "Dam, I wish I was pitching right now because I know exactly what to throw to strike him out" or do you just sit back and relax?

Peterson: Personally, I just sit back and watch. We all kind of know each other and the pitch that we would throw in a certain situation is more than likely the pitch that they would throw in the same situation.

NYF: It's three hours to game time, and you're the starting pitcher. What is your routine? Do you try and calm yourself down or pump yourself up?

Peterson: I think I try to pump myself up. I want to feel powerful when I pitch.

NYF: Do you have any superstitions?

Peterson: Us baseball players are all superstitious. Things have been kind of slow for me personally so I've been doing different things lately. Before the game on the day I pitch I'll go take a shower, clean out my ears, shave, brush my teeth. I think that if you go out there and feel fresh and feel good then you'll go out there and pitch fresh and pitch well.

NYF: I noticed that there are no slow workers on this staff. There are no deliberate pitchers. Is that something the organization has tried to teach you guys or is it just one hell of a coincidence?

Peterson: They always want us to work quickly. It helps keep the defense on their toes and keeps their attention on every pitch. If you have a slow worker, the defense will play back on their heels and it kind of takes them out of the game. So if we can come out at stay at a steady pace and throw strikes the defense will be behind us the whole way through.

NYF: You've gotten a lot of ground ball outs this year. Is that something you've always done or have they increased as you have grown as a pitcher and as your curveball has improved and hitters are hitting on top of it more?

Peterson: I used to have a lot of fly ball outs. I don't know if it's because I've been working in down in the zone more or what the deal is. Maybe it's because I've been keeping hitters off balance with my offspeed pitch so they're hitting on top of the ball but however I can get them out ill take it.

NYF: You played other positions in High School?

Peterson: I was a third baseman.

NYF: I understand you were a pretty good hitter. Did you ever think of becoming a pro as a hitter?

Peterson: Nah, I knew I was going to be a pitcher right away.

NYF: Is that because you didn't think you were a good enough hitter or because you were throwing 95MPH in High School?

Peterson: Well., let's just say it had more to do with me being a pretty good pitcher.

NYF: 2003 was a breakout year for you. You began to get a lot of attention and have now been hailed as a top prospect. Does the pressure ever get to you?

Peterson: No, I just go day by day. I don't know how they come up with who is a top prospect and who is not but to be considered one of those is definitely a privilege. In this game you cannot let it get to your head because it can bring you down real quick and get you in a lot of trouble. I just try and keep my head on straight and not let my head get too big.

NYF: What's the one part of your game that you feel you need to work on the most?

Peterson: Definitely command of my curveball. I don't know where it's going. At the beginning of the season I had it. I've made some slight modifications to try and help with that. I'd also like to work on my defense. I kind of fall off the mound so whatever I can get to I get to.

NYF: On days when you don't have command of your curveball, what do you do to give your team a chance to win?

Peterson: If I don't have it, I can't just stop throwing it so I try and get a head of the count sneak some fastballs in there and hope that it comes back during the game.

NYF: The velocity on your fastball tends to rise as the game goes on. Does that make you lean toward your fastball a little more or do you have a game plan that you try and stick to?

Peterson: I've always had that tendency. I don't know if it is because I'm looser but I've always gotten stronger as the game has gone on. I just try to get ‘em out. That's what Bobby Ojeda always taught us to do. No matter how you do it, just get them out.

NYF: As you move through the minor leagues do you have trouble adjusting to new pitching coaches?

Peterson: No not really. Basically with every new guy, you try what they say. If it works it works, if it don't it don't. You got to slowly let it drift to the side and go with what has been working for you.

We would like to thank Matthew Peterson for taking the time to answer our questions.

Amazin Clubhouse Top Stories