Steven Matz has been an enigma among Mets starters. Blessed with a live left arm, Matz has a “new look” on the mound. The timing couldn’t be better…
On August 2nd, Steven Matz faced the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park. He lasted 3.2 innings giving up six hits and five runs. His ERA registered 4.60, and his record was lowered to 6-7 in a loss to the lowly Pirates.
Since then in three consecutive starts, Matz has pitched at least six innings, winning two of three decisions while lowering his ERA to 4.18. The turnaround has not gone unnoticed by fans or Mets Brass.
Matz was the focal point of what was considered another Mets debacle when Mickey Callaway removed Matz from a game in which Matz had surrendered only two hits over six innings, delivering only 79 pitches.
Upon further review, most now consider Callaway’s hook to be justified since Metz had gotten out of the sixth with three line-drive outs.
The controversy never touched Matz. He waited his turn, delivering a win over the Cleveland Indian’s robust lineup, giving up only two runs on five hits over 6.1 innings.
Few are surprised by the Steven Matz we see on the mound today. It’s more like everyone, especially his coaches, is relieved. Finally, all that potential is turning into something real. You can touch it and feel it through his body language on the mound and the intensity behind every pitch he delivers.
For Steven Matz, It’s Been A Long Climb Uphill
It wasn’t always that way for Matz as the 2nd round pick of the New York Mets in the 2009 MLB June Amateur Draft from Ward Melville HS (East Setauket, NY). Ever a “fighter” on the mound, the issue was that Matz fought himself as much as he fought the hitters. At this level, the usual result was that Matz always seemed to pitch well enough to lose.
A lefty, Steven Matz typically follows Jacob deGrom, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman – all right-handed in the Mets rotation. Squeezing Matz into the number three slot would seem ideal. Better yet, if Matz can continue his winning ways, Mickey Callaway can consider slotting Matz between deGrom and Syndergaard.
But that’s getting ahead of ourselves. Matz’s next start is scheduled to come on Sunday when he squares off against Dallas Keuchel and the Atlanta Braves. The game is the finale of a three-game set against the first-place Braves, with the Chicago Cubs arriving at Citi Field on Tuesday for another three-game series. Monday is a day off for the Mets.
The idea for the Mets is to keep the line moving. deGrom and Syndergaard are locked in. Marcus Stroman has yet to deliver an impressive outing, but he’s not hurting the Mets either. Zack Wheeler has been up and down lately, which leaves Steven Matz in the middle of enabling Callaway to use that one-two-three punch needed in the postseason – if Matz can deliver.
Better Late Than Never
In any event, it’s a joy to watch Matz pitch the way he has. Every delivery has a purpose. He’s in sync with Wilson Ramos, his catcher. The intensity is still there, and Matz will occasionally exhibit frustration when a pitch gets away from him. But it’s only momentary, and that’s the difference.
In baseball, they say it takes as many as two years more for left-handed pitchers to develop fully. No one knows why. We do know, however, that the Left Hand Of God, Sandy Koufax, did not win twenty games in one season until his eighth year when he was 27.
The Mets are on a roll, and their starting rotation is paving the way. Steven Matz is contributing. In past seasons, that couldn’t always be said. He’s another feel-good baseball story developing at Citi Field…