If you look at the year-to-date record of Mets’ SP Steven Matz, it’s mediocre at best. The lefty has a 7-7 record, with a 4.33 ERA, a 1.35 WHIP, and batters are hitting .268 against him. That’s roughly the kind of production you might expect from a back of the rotation starter for a non-contender. In fact Matz was briefly demoted to bullpen duty earlier this year.
However, if you look at the numbers for Matz since the All-Star break, his production looks more like that of a front line pitcher. Since the break Matz is pitching to a 2-1 record with a sparkling 3.06 ERA. Batters are only hitting .237 against him, and his WHIP is an excellent 1.05.
The highlight of his second-half season has to be his gem of a 99 pitch complete game shutout against the Pirates on July 27. His most recent start, against the Braves on August 14 was quite good as well. Matz yielded one run on 74 pitches in six innings, but got a no-decision. This was a game on a hot night where Matz had done lots of running on the basepaths, and controversially Mickey Callaway turned the game over to his relief corps early resulting in a Braves win.
Over the years, one of the knocks against Matz was that he tended to be injury-prone, but at least so far he has avoided that problem during his post-All-Star break run of excellence. Another knock against Matz has been his occasional inconsistency, which was on display all to often earlier this year. He is still capable of an occasional clunker, see his August 2nd 3.2 inning loss to Pittsburgh where he was charged with five runs.
So, what has led to the turn-around that Matz has experienced? One big factor was surely the decision to promote Phil Regan to pitching coach back in late June. Many of the Mets’ hurlers, including Matz, have shown marked improvement since the All-Star break, and many, including Matz, have given credit to Regan for some of that improvement.
Recently Matz was interviewed by WZZM TV in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Matz praised the ability Regan has to spot little mechanical flaws pitchers fall into. “Phil has a great eye for that,” Matz stated. If you are wondering why a small TV station in western Michigan would be interviewing Matz, the piece was actually about western Michigan native Regan and his return to big league coaching at the unlikely age of 82.
As the Mets prepare to take on the Indians in an inter-league series at Citi Field, the Mets have as good a starting rotation as just about any team, at least since the All-Star break. Matz may not get the attention that Jacob deGrom draws with one Cy Young award under his belt and another one not out of the question, nor that Noah Syndergaard with his Texas-sized personality and 100 mph fastball draw. But make no mistake, if the Mets advance into the postseason this year, Matz will likely have a big role in getting there.