The Mets had an excellent April this year, especially the first half. SP Steven Matz, however, did not have a very good April. He had five starts, and he was cuffed around in four of them. He ended up the month with a 1-2 record and an ugly 4.98 ERA.
Since April, the Mets have not been very good, but Matz, conversely, has been much improved. In his six starts in May and early June, he has turned things around and recorded only one bad outing in that time frame, specifically the start against Arizona on May 19 when he yielded four runs in four innings.
Other than that, he’s been quite good since April. On May 5 he gave up one run in six IP, on May 11 it was one run in five innings, on May 24 it was no runs in six IP, May 29 was his abbreviated start when he was removed after three innings of scoreless ball due to a finger concern, and then there was his most recent start against the Cubs on Sunday, where he gave up two runs in seven innings.
So, overcoming that bad first month, Matz now has an ERA for the season of 3.42, with a decent WHIP of 1.23. His won-loss record for the season is just 2-4, Matz is suffering from the same lack of run support as the other starters, especially Jacob deGrom, are.
So, what has been the difference between the bad Matz of April and the good Matz since? Perhaps it was a change in mental attitude for Matz as much as anything else. Manager Mickey Callaway has said that Matz was getting flustered when things went wrong during a game and that he then lost focus.
It looks like Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland may have helped Matz in retaining his focus when things don’t go his way on the mound. The lefthander does have a lively arm, this velocity on his sinking fastball is averaging 94 MPH this year.
In previous years Matz has shown some brittleness, in 2010 he had Tommy John surgery costing him a year of development in the minors. Injuries, including ulnar nerve problems, were a big part of his disappointing 2017 where he had a 2-7 record with a 6.08 ERA. This year he has been sound physically with the finger issue just proving to be a minor hiccup, Matz did not miss his start after it.
Matz was an important part of the pennant winning 2015 team, he was called up from the minors in midseason that year and won four and lost none with a 2.27 ERA. If the 27 year old pitcher can keep healthy and keep his focus, he will be a key component of the Mets rotation for this season and perhaps for many more seasons to come.