Scott Mathieson was struggling through the early days of his big league career when something went horribly wrong. It was September 2nd against Atlanta and the young right-hander just couldn't get comfortable. On his fifth pitch of the game, he felt some pain in his elbow and grew a little concerned. Immediately when he threw the next pitch, he knew that at least his night was over. Initially, the injury was diagnosed as a strained elbow, but more tests revealed that Mathieson would need Tommy John surgery and would miss considerable time. After the injury, Mathieson admitted that he had experienced some pain in his elbow, but thought it was just the usual end of the season type pain that pitchers sometimes get and he hadn't been too worried about it and didn't report it to the team.
Reports now are that Mathieson could start throwing before too long and be back to the mound by late in the season. Even so, his season is basically lost and he'll have to simply get himself healthy and pitch when and where he can to prepare for next season. If all goes well, he'll be able to fight for a spot in the rotation in 2008, but will likely come into camp as a question mark. Even with the injury, Mathieson has enough talent and enough of an upside that he's still one of the top prospects in the organization.
Scott Mathieson's career stats
|YEAR / TEAM||W||L||ERA||SV||G||GS||IP||H||R||ER||HR||BB||KO|
|Minor League Totals||23||29||4.16||1||87||80||461.1||423||239||213||39||142||437|
Acquired: Drafted by the Phillies in the 17th round of the 2002 Draft out of Aldergrove High School in Canada.
Repertoire: The Phillies were working with Mathieson to develop his slider and he was having success with it. The thought is that when all is said and done, that will be the pitch that Mathieson is known for throwing. His fastball is generally in the low to mid-90s, but has a tendency to flatten out at times when Mathieson doesn't throw it perfectly. The good news is that he has a deceptive change-up that he can use to make his fastball look better than it is and he knows how to keep hitters from getting too comfortable at the plate.
Pitching: One of the things that you first notice about Mathieson is his poise on the mound. After getting over the jitters in his first couple of major league outings, he was starting to at least look more comfortable out there. One concern about Mathieson is the increase in home run balls that he served up in 2005. Most of them were from his flattened fastball that he kept up in the zone. Once his slider becomes a better pitch, he's more likely to throw that more often and rely a little less on the fastball. His home run numbers weren't quite as bad in 2006 as he started to learn what he had to do to keep better, more advanced hitters in the park.
Projection: Everything is pretty much on hold for Mathieson right now as he recuperates from surgery. Nobody can ever know for sure how a pitcher will return, but most come back pitching at least as well as they were before the surgery. The Phillies had enough faith in Mathieson to push him to the majors last season and if he does come back to be the pitcher that he was before the surgery, it's likely that after some minor league work to get back in sync, he'll have another shot at reaching the majors. Before the injury, Mathieson was figured on to be at least a middle of the rotation type starter and possibly more. One thought that the Phillies had with Mathieson was converting him into a reliever, but especially with the injury, that's probably not going to be a consideration.
ETA: Mathieson will likely get some consideration to join the Phillies starting rotation next spring, but don't be surprised if he needs more work in the minors before conquering the major league rotation. It's not likely that the Phillies will count on him for starting help until later in the 2008 season and possibly the start of the 2009 season. If all goes well though, he should be ready to take a spot once he's healthy and has had time to work out the kinks.