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All-Time Top 100 Marlins: #92 Terry Mathews

Topps 1995

During this offseason, Fish Stripes is counting down the Top 100 All-Time Marlins as ordered by their collective WAR rating earned while on the team. Yesterday, we took a look at short time contributor Dan Haren. Today, a pitcher who spent parts of three seasons with the Marlins.

Terry Mathews was a 6’2”, 200 lb. right-handed throwing left-handed hitting pitcher from Alexandria, Louisiana. Born on October 5th, 1964, he played high school ball with Menard High in his hometown, followed by four seasons of college ball with the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The Texas Rangers chose him in the fifth round of the 1987 amateur draft with the 129th overall selection.

Mathews began his professional career later that year with the Gastonia Rangers in the single-A South Atlantic League, going 3-3 over 34 relief appearances, posting a 5.59 ERA, a 1.759 WHIP, and striking out 46 in 48.1 innings. The following season, with the Port Charlotte version of the Rangers in the single-A Florida State League, he took 26 turns in the rotation and posted a 13-6 record with a much-improved 2.80 ERA, a 1.161 WHIP, and 94 whiffs in 163.2 innings.

In 1989, Mathews started the year back with Port Charlotte, going 4-2 with a 3.64 ERA over 10 starts, with 30 whiffs in 59.1 innings and a 1.213 WHIP. A mid-season promotion would see him join the Tulsa Drillers in the double-A Texas League, and go 2-5 with a 6.15 ERA over 10 starts. He also had a sky-high 1.699 WHIP and struck out 32 in 45.1 innings pitched.

Mathews regained a little of his form with Tulsa in 1990, going 5-7 in 14 starts with a 4.27 ERA, a 1.436 WHIP, and 48 K’s in 86.1 innings. Whatever the case, it was good enough to merit a callup to join the Oklahoma City 89ers in the triple-A American Association, and go 2-7 with a 3.69 ERA, a 1.358 WHIP, and 36 K’s in 70.2 innings. Still with the 89ers as the 1991 season commenced, he posted a 5-6 record, a 3.49 ERA, and a 1.385 WHIP in 13 starts and five relief appearances, with 63 strikeouts in 95.1 innings. He also made his first major league appearances, joining Texas for the second half of the season and going 4-0 with a 3.61 ERA in 34 appearances, including two starts.

Mathews went 6-4 for the Rangers in parts of two seasons with the parent club, with a 4.61 ERA, a 1.515 WHIP, and 77 whiffs in 99.2 innings in 74 games. The Rangers released him just after spring training 1993. He signed with the Houston Astros hours later, and split the season between the double-A Jackson Generals in the Texas League (17 starts, 6-5, 3.67, 1.408 WHIP, 74 strikeouts in 103.0 innings) and the triple-A Tuscon Toros in the Pacific Coast League (16 games, four starts, 5-0, 3.55 ERA, 1.545 WHIP, 34 K’s in 33 IP). Granted free agency after the season, he signed on as a free agent with the Marlins.

As part of the Edmonton Trappers in the PCL, Mathews put up a 4-4 record over a dozen starts, with a 4.29 ERA, a 1.310 WHIP, and 46 K’s in 84 innings. Called up to the Marlins for a start on June 15th, he went seven strong innings, allowing just one run on six hits and a walk to defeat the St. Louis Cardinals, 13-3. A long reliever by trade in his first Marlins’ season, he only made one other start, and pitched more than one inning in 12 of his 22 relief appearances. Not a power pitcher by any stretch of the imagination, he defied logic by striking out only 21 in 43 innings with Florida, going 2-1 with a team-third 3.35 ERA and a team-fourth 1.256 WHIP. Only Luis Aquino (3.9 per nine innings) struck out fewer than Mathews (4.4 per nine). The Marlins went 8-16 in games that he pitched in, versus 43-48 in games that he sat. Mathews also went three-for-six from the plate, with a double and a run scored.

In 1995, Mathews, sometimes called “The Body” due to his physical conditioning, ranked third on the Marlins with 57 pitching appearances. He went 82.2 innings and racked up 72 whiffs with a team- and career-best 1.173 WHIP and a Marlins second best 3.38 ERA. He earned three saves and finished 11 other games, going 4-4 with a FIP that was only slightly worse than his ERA, at 3.79. The Marlins went 26-31 in his games and 41-45 in his not-games to finish at 67-76. In 24 of his appearances, he logged four or more outs, including 18 contests in which he pitched two or more innings in relief in what is now the “Dan Phelps” role. No slouch at the plate, Mathews went six-for-13 with two doubles, two runs, and three RBI.

Some highlights of Mathews best major league season.

On June 3rd, Mathews relieved starter David Weathers in the second inning and pitched through the fifth, stemming the bleeding (Weathers had allowed nine baserunners in 1.1 innings) and keeping the Chicago Cubs to one run over his 3.2 innings, a game the Fish eventually won, 5-4.

On June 20th, he earned a victory by pitching 4.2 innings and striking out six while allowing two runs as the Marlins defeated the Colorado Rockies, 7-2.

On July 6th, he pitched the eighth through 10th innings of a 2-2 tie with the Cardinals, giving up just a hit and a walk before Matt Mantei gave up the game in the 12th inning, 3-2.

On July 27th, in the second game of a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres, he earned a save the hard way, pitching the final four innings and striking out four while giving up just one run in an 8-5 victory.

In a 5-4, 11-inning Marlins win over the Atlanta Braves on September 10th, he earned his final win of the season, striking out three over two perfect innings to end the game.

Mathews “walk-up music” was “Macho Man,” by the Village People.

Mathews appeared in 57 games for the Marlins in 1996, ranking fourth on the team. He struck out 49 over 55.0 innings, with a 4.91 ERA and a 1.564 WHIP with a 2-4 win-loss record. In somewhat of a letdown, he went 0-for-4 from the dish to lower his career Marlins batting average to a club-record .391 (minimum 10 at bats). Florida went 26-31 in his games, and 32-37 in his non-appearances.

Mathews collected four or more outs in 14 of his appearances that season. In the third of his four saves, a 6-2 Marlins win over the Cincinnati Reds on May 28th, he struck out three in 1.2 innings, allowing only an Eric Anthony two-out single. On August 21st, the Marlins sent Mathews to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later, who turned out to be Greg Zaun two days later.

Mathews pitched in 88 games over three seasons with the Orioles, going 6-7 with a 4.57 ERA, 62 K’s in 102.1 innings, and a 1.564 WHIP. In 1999, he pitched in 24 contests for the Kansas City Royals, going 2-1 with a 4.38 ERA, 19 strikeouts in 39.0 innings, and another 1.564 WHIP. That was the last time he appeared in a major league game.

Mathews was taken too soon, dying of a heart attack at the age of 47 on February 24th, 2012.

Check back here tomorrow for number 91 on the list, a relief pitcher who last pitched for the Marlins in 2011.