Phillies news: What ever happened to Scott Mathieson?

Scott Mathieson #47 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
Scott Mathieson #47 of the Philadelphia Phillies (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images) /

The career of former Phillies RHP Scott Mathieson has had many peaks and valleys; he hopes to play professionally one more time on baseball’s biggest stage.

Once considered to be among the Phillies’ best pitching prospects, the Major League Baseball career for right-hander Scott Mathieson never quite worked out. Yet, what would follow would be a whole other story.

The Vancouver, Canada, native and B.C. Premier Baseball League athlete was drafted by the Phillies in the 17th round, 509th overall, of the 2002 amateur draft.

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His 3-1 record and 3.93 ERA spanning five starts for then-Triple-A-affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in 2006 earned Mathieson a promotion to the big-leagues. As a 22-year-old rookie, he struggled across nine starts (eight appearances) and 37 1/3 innings, allowing 48 hits, 36 runs (31 earned), eight home runs and 16 walks, en route to a 7.47 ERA and 1.714 WHIP.

As it turns out, the hard-throwing right-hander’s underwhelming start was as the result of injury; he required Tommy John surgery, but, after returning and playing just seven games the following season, had to go “under the knife” once again.

Mathieson could never overcome these injury setbacks as a major leaguer, appearing in only two games in 2012 (10.80 ERA); albeit, in 2011, he tossed five shutout innings across appearances on May 8 (L, 2-5), May 19 (L, 1-7), June 30 (L, 2-5) and July 5 (W, 14-2).

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In total, Mathieson went 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA over 15 games and eight starts in red pinstripes. He spent nine seasons in the Phillies’ organization overall before being released on November 29, 2011, to allow the then 27-year-old to pursue an opportunity with a professional team in Asia.

It was perhaps the best decision of his life.

Mathieson signed with the Nippon Professional Baseball’s Yomiuri Giants just days later, and would go on to play overseas for nearly as long as he played professionally in the Phillies’ organization in America.

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In 428 games and 438 innings as a relief pitcher from 2012 to 2019, the right-hander combined to go 28-29 with a 2.49 ERA, 501-135 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and 1.096 WHIP. His final season would be just this past year, as a 35-year-old, going 3-2 with a 4.25 ERA through 35 games and 29 2/ 3 innings.

Mathieson became so popular in Japan, he has been labeled as a “legend.”

Not only did he play in America and Japan, but he also played several times for his native country. Canada’s national baseball team in the 2006, 2013 and 2017 World Baseball Classics, as well as the 2019 WBSC Premier12. And, this past January, Baseball Canada presented him with the Larry J. Pearson Alumni Award.

Despite logging ample career innings, Mathieson was not ready to call his playing days a wrap just yet. He had planned to return to Japan this summer to pitch for Canada at the Tokyo Olympics.

“That’s one of my main goals, to have the last time I pitch in a competitive game be in Japan while wearing a Canada jersey,” Mathieson told reporters. “I had the majority of my success in Japan, so to be able to finish it there while representing my own country, that’s the dream. That’s the goal I’m working towards.”

With the Olympics now delayed until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is not clear whether Mathieson will still pursue that goal, given he will be 37 years of age and has had a recent knee injury.

Knowing his character and willingness to never give up despite challenging circumstances, especially after needing two Tommy John surgeries while with the Phillies in 2006 and 2007, I would not put it past Mathieson to give professional baseball one last try for his native country.