Jon Matlack

Matlack, another in the long line of good pitchers developed by the Mets, won the Rookie of the Year award in 1972 by going 15-10 with a 2.32 ERA (fourth in the NL). He had been their number-one selection in the June 1967 draft. The offense-deficient Mets won the NL pennant in 1973, but Matlack had a 14-16 record despite 205 strikeouts (third in the league) and a 3.20 ERA. A Marty Perez line drive fractured Matlack’s skull that year, but he was back in the rotation in 11 days. Matlack threw a two-hit, nine-strikeout shutout in Game Two of the LCS; it matched the LCS record for fewest hits allowed in a game. In Game One of the World Series he gave up only two unearned runs (on third-inning errors by Felix Millan and Willie Mays), but lost 2-1. He won Game Four 6-1, giving up three hits in eight innings, but was knocked out in the third inning of Game Seven, taking the loss.

In 1974, his support was even worse: he led the NL with seven shutouts and his 2.41 ERA was third, but he went 13-15. He went 16-12 in 1975 and won the All-Star Game with four strikeouts in two innings. His finest season was 1976, when he went 17-10 with a 2.94 ERA, tied for the NL lead with six shutouts, and finished third with 16 complete games. His effectiveness dropped drastically the next year, as he went 7-15 with a 4.21 ERA and was traded to the Rangers after the season in a four-team deal. He rebounded to finish second in the AL with a 2.27 ERA and went 15-13. He missed two-thirds of 1979 with elbow surgery and never matched his earlier success. Plagued through much of his career by shoulder problems, he was so protective of his pitching arm that he wouldn’t draw blinds with his left hand during the season.