New York Mets: Will Steven Matz be a starter or a reliever in 2021?

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets had the worst of lucks when it comes to starting pitching in the condensed 2020 season. They lost Noah Syndergaard for the whole year and part of 2021, and pitchers such as Michael Wacha, David Peterson, Steven Matz and even Jacob deGrom had to deal with some sort of injury.

Speaking of Matz, he was arguably the worst starter in the New York Mets‘ roster this year. In nine games (six of them starts) and 30.2 frames, the left-hander had a ghastly 9.68 ERA with a 7.76 FIP, although his xFIP was a much more palatable 4.15. He was worth -0.7 fWAR in a regretable performance.

However, he should get a free pass, at least to some extent. He was diagnosed with left shoulder bursitis in August, and if you have been following baseball for quite some time, you know that the worst kind of ailment a hurler can suffer would be a shoulder injury.

Matz was so bad as a starter (he had a 10.17 ERA and batters were virtually prime Babe Ruth against him, slashing .342/.388/.703 with a .449 wOBA) that once he returned from his injury, the Mets tried him in an unfamiliar role: as a reliever.

The Mets’ lefty had a home run problem

Things weren’t much better there: he had a 7.20 ERA, and while batters only hit .211 against him, they slugged .684 and had a .376 wOBA. It was clear that, no matter the role, Matz was having notorious issues with the long ball.

For his career, the Mets’ lefty has allowed 1.49 home runs per each nine innings pitched. This year, it was an absurdly high 4.11. His HR/FB is 17.5% in his six-year tenure, but this year, it jumped to 37.8%.

No matter what role he fulfils with the Mets next year, Matz will have to A) show his shoulder is healthy, and B) trim the home runs. For his career, he has a 4.35 ERA, 4.49 FIP and a 4.01 xFIP, and the vast majority of his innings have come as a starter.

What role will the Mets assign Matz next year? It will largely depend on what kind of offseason they have.

New York Mets: Only Fitting For A Blowout To End The Wilpon’s Reign

New York Mets, Billy Hamilton

Mediocrity is the first word that comes to mind in the broken marriage between the New York Mets and the Wilpon ownership. Their decisions, hirings, and lousy PR led to the Mets becoming the laughing stock of baseball and the butt of every joke. The Mets 15-5 loss to the Washington Nationals closed an ugly 18 years of Wilpon majority ownership.

Seth Lugo likely made his final start as a Met in which he allowed six runs and did not make it out of the second inning. The lack of quality starting rotation depth put the Mets in a situation where they had to force Lugo to be a starter. Should the Mets fix their pitching rotation, Lugo would play very well in his natural bullpen role.

Early Rout

This game was pretty well decided when the Nats had 11 runs after the third inning concluded. Brad Brach and Steven Matz concluded their poor seasons with poor outings, allowing the Nationals to put the game away. Dellin Betances also continued the trend when he made his second outing off the IL. Jeurys Familia was the only reliever to complete two innings without allowing a run and finished his season with a 3.71 ERA.

The two bright spots came from the bats of Pete Alonso and Guillermo Heredia. Alonso had three hits, including two home runs, to finish up the season on a good note. Heredia had two hits and drove in two runs as he hopes to earn an invite to camp in 2021.

The Mets finished their season at 26-34, tied for last place in the NL East. They fell under the .500 mark seven games into the season and never climbed out of that hole in their disappointing season. Steve Cohen and Sandy Alderson inherit a broken organization, filled with potential. With their window to win still wide open, expect the front office to revamp this roster for the 2021 season.

New York Mets: 2020 has been a rough year for Steven Matz

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The 2020 season hasn’t been kind to New York Mets‘ starter Steven Matz. He was coming off a successful 2019 in which he had a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings, but this time around, he has battled injuries and ineffectiveness and has an unsightly 9.79 ERA in 26.2 frames. He has had to deal with a left shoulder ailment and his usual first-inning issues.

The left shoulder bursitis that he had in early September clearly limited, and Matz had to travel back and forth between the Mets’ alternate training site and the big league camp in search for answers.

In his first start since August 15 – he had a brief move to the bullpen – Matz was the losing starter for the New York Mets as they got thrashed 15-2 by the Atlanta Braves on Friday night. In 2.2 innings, he conceded six runs, eight hits and three walks.

With the loss, the Mets fell to 23-28, and it is now very difficult to qualify for the postseason with so many teams vying for a Wild Card spot and less than 10 games left in the calendar.

“It always comes down to executing pitches,” Matz said according to MLB.com. “The sharpness wasn’t there. Executing pitches wasn’t there. I gave those guys a chance, and they capitalized.”

“The command hasn’t been there,” manager Luis Rojas said. “The execution of the pitches, the sequencing … made it big innings against him. From the first inning basically, that was happening to him, where he was not able to execute his pitches.”

The Mets expect more from him

With a mid-90s fastball and a big curveball, it is perplexing that Matz can’t get better results. His command issues are just too much to overcome.

“His stuff is one of the things we like a lot — the fastball velo, the changeup, the contrast that he can create, the angle of his pitches,” Rojas said.

“It’s been a frustrating year for me,” Matz said. “I came into Spring Training 2.0. I was feeling great. I pitched great early on. For it to go this way is really frustrating. … I’ve just got to keep working hard. All I can do is keep putting my best foot forward.”

New York Mets: Matz Fails in Return to Rotation in 15-2 Loss

The New York Mets were out of options in their starting rotation, so Steven Matz lucked into the start against the Atlanta Braves. Matz’s outing went exactly the way we all expected it to. The Braves treated it like batting practice and gave the same treatment to Franklyn Kilome to put up a 15-2 victory.

The only savior for the Mets would have been a rainout because of the lack of confidence in Matz. It was the same pitcher they had before his IL stint, and he put the Mets in a hole early. Over 2.2 innings pitched, Matz allowed six runs on eight hits, including two more home runs. It was part of the Braves scoring in the first four innings of the game.

Kilome returned to the Mets roster before the game since the Mets needed relief help. He provided relief but did not offer any help in the game. Kilome allowed six runs and another two home run to the Braves offense.

Hughes to the Rescue

Jared Hughes came in for a rare long relief appearance throwing 3.2 innings and allowing three more runs and two more homers. While it was not the best performance, it saved the Mets from overusing their bullpen.

Brad Brach and Todd Frazier (you read that right) were the only pitchers with scoreless appearances. While Brach’s was only a one-out cameo, Frazier hurled a 1-2-3 inning in the ninth. He even got Adam Duvall to strikeout looking on a knuckleball.

On the other side, Max Fried continued his Cy Young campaign. Over five innings, he only had three strikeouts but held the Mets to one run, keeping his ERA under two. Jeff McNeil provided the only offense off Fried with an RBI double in the fifth.

Amed Rosario provided three of the five Mets hits on the night. His sixth-inning single gave the Mets their second and final run of the game.

On Saturday, David Peterson tries to become the first Mets starter to make it to the third inning in three games. He faces Ian Anderson at 7:07 p.m. ET from Citi Field.

New York Mets: This injured pitcher is inching closer to a return

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The New York Mets have had countless issues when it comes to their pitching depth, both in the rotation and the bullpen. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, there was a point in the season in which a rookie and two relievers were being used as starters.

The team is slowly getting healthier, but the pitching staff remains, at best, a question mark. The bullpen keeps blowing games and the starters, behind Jacob deGrom, provide no guarantees.

One of the members of the original New York Mets’ starting rotation, Steven Matz, went down with a shoulder injury in late August. One can’t help to link his atrocious start of the season (0-4, 8.63 ERA in 24.0 frames and six games) is linked to the shoulder ailment in some way.

The Mets’ pitcher is taking a huge step today

Thankfully, Matz, whose precise diagnosis is left shoulder bursitis, is throwing a simulated game today at the Mets’ alternate site in Brooklyn, according to MLB.com’s beat writer for the Mets Anthony DiComo.

That is a crucial step in the right direction for Matz, who began playing catch last week after hitting the injured list on August 30.

In late August, Matz reported left shoulder discomfort and was taken off the rotation and moved to the bullpen. A few days and tests after that, he was diagnosed with the bursitis.

The New York Mets fully expect Matz to return before the end of the regular season. If that ends up being the case, he would pitch out of the bullpen, although it’s not clear in which role.

A healthy Matz should be a welcome addition for the Mets’ pitching staff. Last season, he rode a dominant second half to a 4.21 ERA in 160.1 innings in the year as a whole. He could be a valuable long man or pitch in a more traditional, one-inning relief role. Only time will tell.

New York Mets boot Steven Matz from the rotation, Seth Lugo takes his place

The New York Mets rotation is in shambles. Noah Syndergaard was lost in March to Tommy John surgery, Marcus Stroman opted out of the season due to COVID-19 concerns, Michael Wacha is out with shoulder inflammation, David Peterson is also on the injured list and Rick Porcello and, most notably, Steven Matz have struggled.

Matz, according to Mets’ manager Luis Rojas, has been demoted to the bullpen. He has a 9.00 ERA in five starts and 23.0 innings. His place in the rotation will be occupied, from now on, by Seth Lugo, starting on Thursday.

“Seth has been a starter for us in the past, and with the ability for him of navigating through a lineup, his repertoire and command, we’re going to go that way with him,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “That’s the route we’re taking right now, is for him to start more and stretch him out.”

The Mets’ pitching wild card

Lugo has always preferred to be a starter, but he was considered such a big part of the bullpen that the New York Mets always chose to leave him there. He is now going to be a starer out of necessity.

He has 31 starts in his career, but the last time he took the ball to start a game was on June 25, 2018. He needs to be stretched out, which could take a few games.

The Mets needed Lugo in the late innings of Wednesday’s game, and given that he was slated to pitch today, Rojas chose not to use him as Dellin Betances and Edwin Díaz blew a two-run lead in the eighth. Thankfully, Michael Conforto saved the day with a two-run homer in the ninth.

“We blew a save opportunity there, but Díaz did a good job coming right back showing what he can do,” said Rojas, referring to Díaz striking out the side in the ninth. “We trust our ‘pen; we trust the guys that we have there.”

New York Mets: Steven Matz’s struggles have team looking for alternatives

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

The start of the 2020 MLB season has been nightmarish for New York Mets‘ starters. The issues started long before the first game: Noah Syndergaard went down with Tommy John surgery in March.

Marcus Stroman nursed a left calf strain and then decided not to play because of COVID-19. Michael Wacha went down with right shoulder inflammation, then Jacob deGrom had some neck tightness and had to miss a start.

Now David Peterson, the rookie who has pitched very well for the New York Mets, is going to the injured list as well.

Only Steven Matz and Rick Porcello haven’t suffered any ailments, but they haven’t been particularly effective.

Matz, in particular, has been torched almost every time he takes the hill. In five starts and 23.0 innings, he has a horrific 9.00 ERA and has been worth -0.3 fWAR. His WHIP stands at 1.57.

Will the Mets replace Matz?

If it weren’t for the Mets’ litany of injuries in the rotation, Matz probably wouldn’t make his next scheduled start as he works on some things. However, there probably are too many absences for that plan to take place. Yet, the team still is undecided.

“We’re still discussing with him things that we want to fix, things we want to work with him [on] … things that we’re working for him to translate into the game,” Rojas said. “We’re not committed either way yet.”

Seth Lugo, one of the best and most reliable relieves in the National League, remains a possibility to start in Matz’s next turn. Lugo has starting experience but the Mets have said they prefer him as a reliever. Yet, the need for a starter is evident.

“It’s something to think about. Seth can do different things,” Rojas said to MLB.com. “We’re not committed with him yet to do something as an opener or something as a starter yet, but that’s something that, you never know. His versatility can definitely help us to do some things different from the bullpen in the future. We’ll see.”

New York Mets: Fifth Inning Struggles Haunt Matz in 6-2 Loss

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

New York Mets starter, Steven Matz, came into his start with a renewed game plan after a rough start to his season. It worked for Matz through four innings, but everything came crashing down when a five-run fifth inning knocked him out of the game.

Matz took some velocity off his fastball in exchange for an increase in his accuracy. He sat around 91-93 with it and threw more changeups during his start. The only hit and run Matz allowed through the first four innings of the game came on a Jean Segura second-inning home run.

Matz ran into quick trouble during the fifth inning when two soft singles set the Phillies up with first and second with no one out. He walked Alec Bohm to load the bases and start to run away from his game plan from early in his outing. After getting Scott Kingery to lineout, he walked Andrew McCutchen to walk in a run. Rhys Hoskins blew the game open with a bases-clearing double followed by a Bryce Harper double, ended Matz’s night.

The outing inflated his ERA to 9.00 on the season, and his nine home runs are the most allowed by any pitcher this season. He tried to overthrow the ball once he got into trouble, and it ended up hurting him and brought his stats back to the norm in 2020 for Matz.

Nola Dominates

The Mets struggled all night with Aaron Nola as he shut them out for seven innings. When the Mets had early chances against him, he squashed them quickly. Nola retired the last 13 batters he faced and recorded eight strikeouts during his outing.

The only scoring from the Mets came from Dominic Smith. His two-run home run was his sixth of the season, and it leads the Mets. Smith’s hot start put into question how long Pete Alonso can continue to play every day. Through just over a third of the season, Alonso is only hitting .214, and his power is non-existent in the rare circumstance that he makes contact.

On Sunday, Rick Porcello tries to help the Mets prevent a sweep. He faces off against former Met Zack Wheeler at 1:05 p.m. ET from Citizens Bank Park.

New York Mets: Pitching Fails in 16-4 Loss to Nationals

New York Mets, New York Yankees, Steven Matz

It was fitting for the New York Mets to lose 16-4 when the found out Marcus Stroman was opting out for the rest of the 2020 season. To make matters worse, the scoring outbreak came against the worse scoring team in baseball, the Washington Nationals.

Steven Matz had nothing against the Nationals for the second straight start. He was lit up for eight runs in 4.1 innings, allowing three home runs on the night. After pitching a terrific first inning, it was all downhill after that. Matz consistently left his pitches up and over the plate and rarely threw inside with any success.

The issue is not Matz failing to pitch inside enough; it is missing inside in the wrong spot. If he misses inside off the plate or low, then no one can hit the ball solidly. Matz’s starts in the rotation are numbered as he continues to struggle.

7-Run Fifth

Matz and Paul Sewald combined for an eight-hit, seven-run fifth inning, which put the game out of reach. Believe it or not, Sewald pitched worse than Matz, allowing six runs and six hits in this two-out stint. At least Drew Smith and infielder Luis Guillorme were the only relievers to record a 1-2-3 inning.

Jeff McNeil was a bright spot for the Mets offense recording three hits and a double. Brandon Nimmo also recorded a homer in the ninth off Sean Doolittle. The home run off a left-hander is an encouraging sign for Nimmo. He has been struggling both in the power department and against lefties.

The Mets attempt to allow less than 16 runs on Tuesday as Rick Porcello attempts to outduel a healthy Max Scherzer, who is coming back from a hamstring injury. The first pitch from Citi Field is at 7:10 p.m. ET.

New York Mets Series Preview: Washington Nationals (8/10-13)

New York Mets, Pete Alonso

The New York Mets continue their march towards the .500 mark as they welcome in the Washington Nationals for a four-game series at Citi Field. The Mets come off a series win over the Miami Marlins during the weekend. The Nats lost the first two to the Baltimore Orioles before Sunday’s game was suspended.

Probable Pitching Matchups: 

Monday, (8/10) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Patrick Corbin (1-0, 3.00 ERA) vs. Steven Matz (0-2, 5.66 ERA)

Tuesday, (8/11) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Max Scherzer (0-1, 3.29 ERA) vs. Rick Porcello (1-1, 6.92 ERA)

Wednesday, (8/12) @ 7:10 p.m. ET: Anibal Sanchez (0-2, 7.84 ERA) vs. TBD

Thursday, (8/13) @ 1:10 p.m. ET: Austin Voth (0-1, 1.80 ERA) vs. David Peterson (2-1, 3.78 ERA)

Michael Wacha’s injury and Marcus Stroman‘s opt-out for the 2020 season makes more of a mess in the Mets rotation. The role of Steven Matz and Rick Porcello heightens even more as they need consistent starters to step up behind Jacob deGrom. Matz and Porcello have two completely different starts against the Nats their first time out. Matz struggled to get through three innings, while Porcello made it look easy through his seven-inning start.

Playoff Hunt?

Throughout the struggles of the first 16 games, the Mets still sit in the second spot of the Wild Card race. The Mets want to be over .500, but the new playoff format gives the Mets hope to rebound and contend after their bad start.

One of the key reasons for their turn around is the emergence of the rookie, Andres Gimenez. He has risen from the last man on the roster to someone the Mets cannot afford to keep on the bench. Thanks to Robinson Cano‘s injury, he cemented himself at second base and is hitting .333 through his young career. A matchup against Corbin and Scherzer is going to be good tests for the young prospect.

Matchups to Lookout For

Patrick Corbin vs. Amed Rosario: 3-for-22 (.136), Double, 2 Home Runs, Walk, 3 Strikeouts

Patrick Corbin vs. Michael Conforto: 8-for-22 (.364), Double, 5 Home Runs, Walk, 6 Strikeouts

Steven Matz vs. Starlin Castro: 8-for-25 (.320), Double, Home Run, 6 Strikeouts

Steven Matz vs. Juan Soto: 6-for-13 (.462), Double, Triple, 4 Strikeouts