While everyone has fixated on the poor start to the season for Matt Harvey, the New York Mets have had a few underachievers filling out their starting rotation. Among that group is lefty Steven Matz, who delivered an absolute stink bomb of a start last night, giving up seven runs (three earned) in 3.1 innings of work. Matz cruised through the first two innings before a few errors led to a cavalcade of runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in the next two frames, burying the Mets in a 7-1 hole they would never overcome.
Matz’s abbreviated outing has continued a bad trend in the early going. In five starts this season, Matz has failed to pitch past the fourth inning in three of them, including each of his past two starts. Matz’s longest outing of the season came against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 13th, when he allowed four runs in 5.1 innings. There has certainly been some poor defensive play behind Matz, as six of the 18 runs he has allowed this season have been unearned, but that can’t explain away all of the issues.
The problem for Matz appears to be a mental one as his stuff has been solid for most of the season. Last night’s start was a perfect example, as Matz gave up an infield single with one out in the third before committing a fielding error on a sacrifice bunt. Instead of buckling down and finding a way out of the inning, Matz issued a walk and gave up two hits to allow the Cardinals to plate three runs. Another sacrifice screw up in the fourth led to a Matz meltdown, as he followed that by hitting a batter and issuing a bases loaded walk before an error by Todd Frazier ended his night.
Manager Mickey Callaway offered some commentary on Matz’s poor outing, noting that “One little throw to first kind of unraveled things and he just couldn’t get it back”, Kevin Kernan of the New York Post reports. The skipper went on to say that Matz needs to realize that one bad throw shouldn’t ruin an outing, a mentality that they will work on with Matz going forward.
Callaway also wouldn’t commit to giving Matz another start, but its hard to imagine that he won’t take the ball against Atlanta on Tuesday. The Mets have zapped their rotation depth by using Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo out of the bullpen, an area where they are needed with Anthony Swarzak taking a long time to recover from an oblique injury. The only other alternative is Harvey, who has been out of sorts for weeks and is currently on a media boycott after being dumped to the bullpen. The Mets are getting Jason Vargas back, which will help, but they need more out of Matz to reach their ultimate goal of postseason play.