Scott Mathieson: Closer Of The Future?

Scott Mathieson has done pretty well as a starting pitcher in the Phillies' minor league system. Even with the success that he's had, there is a lot of thought that he may be better as a closer.

Scott Mathieson hasn't put up dominating numbers as a starter, but he's been a fairly solid prospect as a starting pitcher in the Phillies' organization. Through many parts of the organization though, there are whispers that Mathieson's true calling could be to work as a reliever - in fact, they believe that Mathieson could be a candidate to wear the label of Closer of the Future.

"You know what?" said Mathieson. "I want to get to the majors, so anyway I can get there, I want to do it." The 22 year old seemed to grow more excited about the prospect as the discussion went on. "Being a closer would be great. I always loved those pressure situations. As a starter, you look to go deep into games and get wins. I haven't had the opportunity to close too much - I did it in Batavia for a little bit - but I'm definitely fine with that."

As for this season, Mathieson was excited to make the jump to AA and to be pitching on a talented Reading staff. "I'm excited about it. I got to go to the Arizona Fall League and pitch against guys who had already been at AA and that helped my confidence a lot. It's nice to be on such a great pitching staff, too."

Looking at last season's numbers, Mathieson would have to get a lot better in pressure situations. Opponents hit .333 (2-for-6) against him with the bases loaded and .245 (23-for-94) with runners on base. Overall, opponents hit .241 against him last season at Clearwater.

One reason to move him to a closer's job is that he has seemed to wear down as his innings increase. Mathieson admits that he was a little tired late last season and in the AFL, where his numbers were off from what he's accustomed to being. "In the Fall League, I was definitely working on my slider. That was the first time that I ever really threw it a lot in a game situation. Last season was tough. We (Clearwater) lost 95 games and I think that wore on me, but I'm excited for this year," said Mathieson.

Through four starts this season, Mathieson is 1-1 with a 4.26 ERA. He believes the slider is becoming an important pitch for him. "I've got a lot of confidence in it now and it's only going to get better," beamed Mathieson.

If he is converted to being a reliever, Reading pitching coach Tom Filer believes that Mathieson could do the job. "When I first saw him two years ago, I thought he was suited to be a setup guy and maybe a closer. The way he's really starting to come around and starting to be aggressive with his pitching, I really like what I'm starting to see," said Filer. "When he's on and throwing his fastball, he can tell a hitter it's coming and they're not going to hit it, so he could step into almost any role on the staff."

For now though, Mathieson is in the starting rotation at Reading and there aren't any official plans to move him to the bullpen. With the Phillies having an aging closer at the major league level and no clear closer coming through the organization, Mathieson could be as good of a choice as anybody to fill that particular role.


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