Can Steven Matz and the Mets finally admit something isn’t right? Can they finally admit that a side trip to Las Vegas might be just the thing to straighten him out and find something to build on for next year.
It’s now been eight starts in which Matz has alternated between so-so, bad and simply terrible. Is there a fourth category to describe tonight’s 7-5 meltdown against the Yankees?
In between those starts, he’s been working on drills with pitching coach Dan Warthen that will help him keep the ball down. He’s been studying video to spot any mechanical flaws.
“I’ve been trying some different stuff but it hasn’t translated,’’ Matz said. “When guys are on base I’m leaving the ball up in the zone and that’s where I’ve gotten hurt. I have to figure out what is causing that.’’
Nothing, at least not yet, has worked.
“We’ve wrung the rag dry trying to find answers that could help him,’’ said manager Terry Collins. “But, when he’s out there on the mound he has to make quality pitches. … We’ve got to find something that will work.’’
Seven runs on seven hits in 3.1 innings was the damage charged to Matz. It is the fifth time in 13 starts Matz has given up at least five runs. Since I’m listing horrible statistics, he’s also given up 12 homers in 70 innings. That includes a three-run homer to Gary Sanchez in the first. Other ugly numbers: It is the 16th time this season the Mets have given up at least three runs in the first and they have been outscored 104-84 in the opening inning.
Matz, whose first-inning ERA in 9.00, hung a 0-2 changeup over the plate to Sanchez. He is 0-6 over his last eight starts and overall fell to 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA. His problems began with a two-base throwing error to first on a ball hit back to the mound by Brett Gardner leading off the game.
“But, you have to move on,’’ said Collins. Translation: Winning pitchers must overcome.
Matz, who spent the first two months on the disabled list recovering from surgery to remove a bone spur in his elbow, also missed the 2010-11 seasons following Tommy John surgery.
Perhaps Matz is hurting again, or hit a wall in his recovery and has a dead arm and is gutting it out. Maybe he’s hiding an injury. Maybe he’s tipping his pitches, but you’d think they would have discovered it if he has been. Maybe his mechanics are all screwed up.
“I asked him if he was physically OK, but he said he is fine,’’ Collins said, shaking his head.
Matz answered every question calmly and professionally. He didn’t duck anything.
“It’s not a good feeling. I don’t want to say I’m lost,’’ Matz said. “I want to think I’m one step away from having things click.’’
The season is lost for the Mets, but it might not be totally lost for Matz. It is still possible he could work things out with a couple of starts in Las Vegas. Perhaps that’s a gamble the Mets should make.
At this point, what would it hurt?