TAMPA, Fla. — Though his time in the big leagues has been relatively brief, Steven Matz has been taking notes. For example, consider his thoughts on his rotation mates Jacob deGrom and Matt Harvey.
“Like I’ve said many times, I see Matt and Jacob out there and they don’t let stuff affect them out there,” Matz said after he was roughed up in the Mets’ 6-3 loss to the Yankees last night. “That’s why they’re really, really successful. So, I try to take that stuff from them and try to use it in my game as well.”
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Matz, 24, fired his mitt into his locker after his previous Grapefruit League outing, then groused about not seeing enough results. But after his start against the Yankees, when he surrendered all five of his runs in the second inning, the Long Island lefthander shrugged it off.
“Honestly, that’s another thing I’ve been working on, is just trying to stay level out there,” Matz said. “I know last time I got frustrated. This time, it was huge for me to come back out there and kind of go out there and get some hitters out after that, keep my composure.”
Matz settled in and retired the final seven batters he faced, the product of a mechanical adjustment after his rocky second. In four innings, he allowed seven hits, walked two and struck out three. He has allowed at least three runs in each of his last three spring outings.
Through four Grapefruit League starts, Matz’s ERA is 8.31, which might be cause for concern if he were on the bubble to make the roster. But it hardly mattered to manager Terry Collins, who before the game acknowledged Matz’s place in the starting rotation.
“He’s going to help us,” Collins said. “He’s a good pitcher.”
For Collins, much of what Matz must work on is no different than from any other young arm.
“It’s the same thing we say every day,” he said. “You talk about young pitching and there’s always one thing they can do, and that’s locate and make better pitches in key situations. It’s all about going out there and pitching, and focusing, and trusting your stuff.”
That lapse in command became an issue for Matz during his rocky second inning. While he caught some tough luck -- a broken-bat roller, a slow grounder up the middle and a soft liner just over the shortstop’s glove -- Matz didn’t help himself by missing his spots.
He said that his command “was a tick off.”
“You try to work on stuff,” said Matz, who faced a Yankees lineup stocked with regulars. “At the same time, you’re facing the New York Yankees. That stuff’s going to happen. But I’m pretty happy how I bounced back there and like I said, I got some results the last few batters.”
Indeed, after the second, Matz capped off his outing with a pair of scoreless innings. He ended with strikeouts of Aaron Hicks and Alex Rodriguez.
“I think it’s huge,” Matz said.
Despite the stats, Matz has been healthy throughout spring training, perhaps the most important development of his camp. And with the Mets a week away from leaving Florida, Matz believes he’s prepared for the season.
“I really do feel ready,” he said. “I had one bad inning this time out but like I said, I bounced back from it and that’s the stuff you’re going to deal with during the season, too, so this is a part of it.”