The Mets’ magic number is down to three games following tonight’s victory in Cincinnati, but getting a step closer to the postseason for the first time since 2006 doesn’t mean they are any closer to setting Steven Matz‘s playoff role.
Matz hasn’t lost in six career starts, but hasn’t been as good as he was prior to going on the disabled list in early July. Tonight the Reds hit him for three runs on 10 hits in 5.2 innings, in which he threw 93 pitches. The damage against him would have been greater had he not struck out eight.
Matz has a power left arm and a bright future, but does that future include a spot in the playoff rotation? He’ll make the playoff roster, but his role hasn’t been announced. We just know he’ll be there.
I’m thinking there are four potential roles for him:
* Because of the uncertainty surrounding Harvey with his innings, Matz could be in the rotation along with Niese or Colon, with Harvey coming out to the bullpen. This would work when Harvey would come out to start an inning.
Because of the mystery surrounding this, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mets already know they might leave Harvey off the playoff roster, and in that case Matz would likely get the starting spot.
* Again, because of Harvey’s innings issue, if he is to pitch half-games in the playoffs, perhaps he could be used as the second arm in the game to pitch in short relief.
The wild card in all this is Harvey’s innings. Even without Harvey, or with him in a reduced role, the Mets have more of a need in the bullpen than in the rotation.