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Oops! All Astros: Phil Maton

Phil Maton was another cog in Houston’s formidable bullpen.

Philadelphia Phillies v Houston Astros Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

We’re looking into the 2022 campaign of each player in Houston’s system.

Phil Maton is a six-foot-two, 206 lb. right-handed pitcher from Paducah, KY. Born on March 25, 1993, he was a 20th round pick of the San Diego Padres in 2015 out of Louisiana Tech. Chosen with the 597th pick off the board, Maton is the fifth player taken at that position to make the major leagues.

Maton made it to the majors with the Padres in 2017, and traded to the Cleveland Indians for international bonus slot money in 2019. In mid-2021, the Indians packaged him with Yainer Díaz to the Astros for Myles Straw. Maton pitched in 27 games for Houston after his acquisition, striking out 24 and finishing his year with a 1.618 WHIP over 25 13 innings. Even so, he was 4-0 with a 4.97 ERA.

The 2022 season would open with Maton as part of the bullpen, a middle-innings eater used in medium leverage situations. He ranked third on the club with 67 appearances in total, and posted a 3.84 ERA and a 4.33 FIP through 65 23 innings.

The highlight of Maton’s season would have to be his performance in Houston’s 9-2 win over the Texas Rangers on June 15. He pitched one inning, struck out three and allowed no hits or walks, using only nine pitches to accomplish the feat. Only 112 “immaculate innings” have been recorded through baseball’s first 15+ decades, but Maton’s was the second such inning just in that game.

Maton relies on a four-pitch mix to get the job done. He has a 91 MPH four-seamer he uses 43 percent of the time and a curveball with a .199 XBA he uses 31.5 percent of the time. His curveball, which breaks 19.9 inches horizontally, has the biggest break in the majors by nearly two inches. His other secondary offerings aren't as attractive, a slider (18 percent) and a sinker (6.5 percent).

Despite his immaculate inning and his +++curveball, Maton was regarded (in TCB’s GameThreads) as the least attractive option in relief. This was a fair assessment, as Maton’s -0.3 bWAR was the lowest such figure from amongst the pitching corps.

That’s not to say Maton didn’t have utility. He struck out 73 batters against only 24 walks, an over three-to-one ratio of K/BB. He held batters to a .237/.321/.428 slashline, and finished the season with a game entering leverage index of 0.92. After facing his brother for the first time, allowing a hit in the season finale, Phil broke his hand on a locker. He underwent surgery and was unavailable through Houston’s World Series run.

Maton is arbitration 3 eligible, and looks to command an estimated $3.7 million.