Steven Matz is one of the best young pitchers in the game, and a key part to the Mets core young pitching rotation. The only lefty on the staff, Matz was given the opportunity by Mets’ manager Terry Collins to pitch in game four of the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the same in the National League Championship Series against the Chicago Cubs. In his last start, Matz did not have his best stuff, and if the Mets want to get the World Series as fast as possible, he will have to pitch his heart out for the innings he is given. But what will that line be? Will it be a matter of innings pitched, pitches thrown, or batters faced? And when he does come out, who will take over out of the bullpen?
When facing the Dodgers in the last round of the playoffs, Matz had a final line of 5 innings pitched and gave up 3 earned runs on six hits while striking out 4 and walking 2. Not too bad for a rookie who started enough games to count on one hand during the regular season, but he did get the loss in the game (and yes…the win/loss record of a pitcher does matter). The Cubs, of course, are not the Dodgers, so Matz should have different results than his last time out. The only problem: the Cubs have a better offense than the Dodgers, and they hit lefties pretty well.
When Matz faces the Cubs tonight, I expect him to go about 4.2 innings with 63 pitches. He will allow 2 runs on 3 hits while striking out 3 and walking 1. This is a good line for a pitcher of his skill for the most part, but he will be taken out most likely due to that third hit. As time goes on tomorrow night, Collins will have little tolerance for his pitchers, and when it comes to the fourth inning in what should probably be a tight game, he will have no choice but to take out Matz after allowing a base runner. Although it is not a win or go home game for the Mets, tomorrow night’s game is important being that Matt Harvey, who would probably pitch game five if needed, may not be 100% healthy after getting hit by a line drive back in game one.
After Matz is out, it comes down the bullpen: something that the Mets have struggled with recently. With Tyler Clippard and Jeurys Familia being the two best pitchers out of the pen, and Addison Reed not too far behind, the Mets will have a few innings they will need to be eaten up by the bullpen. Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese have been used in this series already, and it may be helpful if the Mets show new arms to a young offense. Therefore, Hansel Robles and Erik Goedell could pitch about an inning each, and then Collins could go to a Reed-Clippard-Familia combination.
If the Mets wish to sweep the Cubs tonight, it will be a far from easy task. The Cubs are a great team who will not go down without a fight, and will give it their all at the plate. They hit lefties well, and Matz will need to be able to keep his nerves in check in order to have a successful night.