Tyler Matzek was placed on leave for three months because of..

North Port, Florida: Tyler Matzek has spent the last ninety days not only overcoming the physical obstacles associated with recuperating from Tommy John surgery, but also overcoming the psychological fallout from yet another unforeseen setback.

Matzek was relegated to the role of spectator in the last two postseasons after creating one of the greatest moments in Atlanta sports history during the 2021 National League Championship Series.

According to Matzek, “that’s the special time in baseball.” “For just one month of baseball, we play the entire season. I’d like to return there. All players, I believe, desire to get there. In previous seasons, we set out to reach that target. We now have the roster to do something extraordinary that we want to do.

Matzek will forever be recognized as an integral member of the 2021 World Series champion Braves. He posted a 1.72 ERA over 13 appearances during that postseason. One of those appearances made him an Atlanta legend.

The left-handed reliever entered Game 6 of the NLCS with runners at second and third with none out and the Braves leading 4-2 in the sixth. His assignment was to limit damage against these three right-handed Dodgers hitters: Albert Pujols, Steven Souza Jr. and Mookie Betts.

Matzek went above and beyond as he struck out each of these three hitters and then tallied two more strikeouts in

“That was just pure dominance and probably one of the most clutch moments in Braves history,” Braves reliever A.J. Minter said.

Unfortunately, this great experience was followed by an injury-plagued 2022 season that concluded with him undergoing Tommy John surgery in October. Those who have followed Matzek’s journey might have been expecting this bump in the road.

After being taken by the Rockies with the 11th overall pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, he developed control issues that significantly lessened his prospect status. He debuted for Colorado in 2014 and developed the yips by the start of the next Spring Training. He battled depression and had to seek interested organizations while spending the next five seasons attempting to get back to the Majors.

Matzek finally returned to the Majors with the Braves in 2020. But even that final rise included a pothole. He was brought over from Minor League camp to just serve as an emergency option in some Grapefruit League games that year. He impressed in two games and was set to get more opportunities before COVID shut down the sports world.

Fortunately, manager Brian Snitker said, “What about that left-hander?” when he and president of baseball operations Alex Anthopoulos were discussing who to bring to the brief summer camp that preceded the shortened 2024

Matzek established himself as a key piece of the Braves’ bullpen over the months that followed. Now, he’s set to overcome this latest obstacle and once again be a key contributor to Atlanta’s World Series bid.

“I’m feeling really good,” Matzek said. “I’m feeling healthy. I’m not battling anything. My arm is feeling really good. I’m excited to get going.”

Instead of putting Matzek on the Opening Day roster, the Braves may opt to have him make a couple of rehab appearances before joining the regular bullpen mix. The veteran reliever hasn’t faced hitters since the end of the 2022 regular season.

Matzek will reintroduce himself to hitters while throwing live batting practice within the next couple weeks. He’ll then gradually build himself back to the point where he might again experience something as exhilarating as the 2021 NLCS appearance that he and Braves fans will never forget.

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