During time with Blue Jays, Matz says he found his 'identity as a pitcher'

Faizal Khamisa and Jesse Rubinoff discuss whether the Toronto Blue Jays made the correct call not offering Steven Matz a fourth year on his deal after it was announced that the left-hander would be joining the St. Louis Cardinals.

Steven Matz is taking his talents to the St. Louis Cardinals for the next four years, but his time with the Toronto Blue Jays gave him poise, character and set him up for success.

The 30-year-old discovered some more of his identity with the Jays during the 2021 season. He pitched more than 150 innings and posted a 14-7 record with a 3.82 ERA, 144 strikeouts and 43 walks.

That success, he says, is at least in part due to Toronto's staff.

"Pete Walker really helped me with ... finding my identity as a pitcher," said Matz during an interview with Sportsnet the FAN 590 on Wednesday morning. "I loved throwing to Danny Jansen, I really enjoyed my time there ... and the support of staff --  from the nutritionist to analytics to the strength trainers to the trainers -- was terrific."

Matz received calls from other free agents in the league asking about his time with the Jays and he responded by speaking highly of the organization, though he refused to say which players asked.

While the Jays reaped the spoils of Matz's pitching, the rest of the MLB took notice, setting the Long Island native up for success during the off-season.

"I feel really blessed to have many teams make offers and being able to pick," said Matz.

Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith reported the Blue Jays and Matz showed mutual interest in reuniting but he had received offers from eight different teams. Ultimately Matz, with the luxury of choice, picked the Cardinals, who made a surprise run to the post-season in 2021.

"Cardinals willing to go to four years checked a lot of boxes," said Matz. "I've always admired them from afar.

"(Yadier Molina has been) so good for so many years and in my opinion one of the best (catchers) in my generation. It excites you when you get to … throw to a legend."

Signed at $44-million over four years, the Cardinals are gambling that they will get Blue Jay Steven Matz and not 2020 Matz, when he went 0-5 with the New York Mets on 9.68 ERA.

The signing of his contract comes at a critical time.

Any pitcher worth his salt comes to the mound with a plan, and as a likely MLB lockout looms, Matz has his.

"It was really important to me and my wife to get out in front of that (potential lockout) and have a game plan and some certainty," said Matz.

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