Fantasy Preview: Ryan Mattheus


Oct 8, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Washington Nationals relief pitcher Ryan Mattheus (52) covers his face with his glove during the seventh inning of the 2012 NLDS against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium. The Cardinals won 12-4. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired from the Colorado Rockies in a 2009 trade for Joe Beimel, Ryan Mattheus has emerged as an effective reliever in one of the majors’ best bullpens. Despite not making his MLB debut until the age of 27, Mattheus has pitched strongly to date. in 98.1 career innings, Mattheus has a 2.84 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He is the team’s best middle reliever, given that Craig Stammen is a long reliever and Tyler Clippard, Drew Storen, and Rafael Soriano are all late-game relievers. In the playoffs last season, he accomplished the extremely rare feat of getting three outs with two pitches. However, advanced metrics have not been kind to him, and he has had a FIP over 4 in his to major league seasons. His projections, in kind, demonstrate some pessimism over his ability to maintain this level:

ZiPS: 49 IP, 35 K, 18 BB, 4.22 ERA, 1.35 WHIP No projection

CBSSports: 32.2 IP, 18 K, 11 BB, 2.75 ERA, 1.19 WHIP

ESPN Fantasy: 64 IP, 41 K, 24 BB, 3.94 ERA, 1.34 WHIP

Averages: 48.2 IP, 31 K, 18 BB, 3.64 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Despite Mattheus’ nearly identical ERAs in his first two seasons, two of our projectors doubt that he will replicate his early-career success. The main reason for this is also why Mattheus falls short in advanced metrics: his peripheral stats are weak. He has a career 4.9 K/9 rate, and a .252 baBIP against. These would indicate that Mattheus’s numbers are due to luck, but for these projections, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, given that he has maintained his performance over two seasons. A bit of regression is to be expected, however, so our official guess will be a low-3s ERA, with similar walk, strikeout, and innings pitched numbers to the average above. As a fantasy pitcher, he has no value. Despite his good ERA, his low strikeout numbers make him less valuable than the average middle reliever, who doesn’t have much value anyway. As a Nat, he will pitch mainly in the sixth and seventh innings, perhaps the eighth when another reliever is getting rest or a game is out of hand. He should continue to be an inexpensive and valuable option out of the bullpen for Davey Johnson.