It's hard as hell to get to the major leagues. It's even harder to stay there. If you're lucky, you'll have one or two signature moments along the way. Tyler Matzek had his on Saturday night. This was a pitcher who was out of the major leagues for five years. He got released by a bunch of different teams. He pitched in the independent leagues. He was the definition of an afterthought until he wasn't. And don't get me wrong, Matzek pitched really well for the Braves over the last two years, posting a 2.64 ERA over 90 appearances dating back to the beginning of the 2020 Covid year. But Saturday night will be the moment that he'll be known for forever.
It felt like it was going to be another episode of "How Are The Braves Going To Cough This One Up?" Tyler Matzek was brought in to throw darts with a 4-2 lead in the top of the seventh inning and nobody out. He threw bull's-eyes. With the tying run at second, Matzek struck out the side, punching out Albert Pujols, Stephen Souza, and Mookie Betts in the process. He struck out Mookie Betts on three pitches, which Mookie Betts had not done in his two years as a Los Angeles Dodger with runners in scoring position. Just for fun, Matzek would go on to retire the Dodgers in order 1, 2, 3 in the top of the eighth inning as well.
If you follow me at all, you know that I'm a diehard Tigers fan. But when it comes to October, I root for storylines. And Tyler Matzek is one hell of a storyline. He'll never win a Cy Young, and he'll probably never be an All-Star, but to an entire generation of Atlanta Braves fans, game six of the 2021 ALCS will be known as "The Tyler Matzek Game." Good on you, dude. That's why you never quit.