PHILADELPHIA — After Steven Matz’s return from the disabled list went about as poorly as the starts before it, the lefthander and manager Mickey Callaway attributed it to rust after the two-week layoff, insisting there were not any lingering health issues.
“Ultimately, I felt healthy, so I’m taking that as a positive,” Matz said. “But I have a lot of work to do to get back to where I was before the All-Star break.”
The Phillies roughed Matz up for six runs (four earned) in two innings in the Mets’ 9-6 loss in Game 2 of Thursday's doubleheader. He allowed five hits and a walk and struck out two, throwing only 58 pitches (31 strikes) — well short of the 75-80 limit Callaway prescribed heading into the game.
Matz wanted a third inning, Callaway said. But the Mets opted for Paul Sewald.
“I told him I had to take care of him at this point,” Callaway said. “He looked really rusty. He just had trouble getting his fastball going. It was kind of up, it was leaking back out over and just the command wasn’t there tonight. He was battling himself all night. Pitch count got up. We didn’t feel like when he came off that it was very smart to send him back out for a third inning.”
Matz has had a rough second half. In four starts, he has a 13.18 ERA, a figure swayed heavily by his two-out, seven-run outing July 31. After that, Matz landed on the DL with a flexor pronator strain in his left elbow. That kept him out until Thursday.
Callaway and Matz were confident that a regular schedule and some work with pitching coach Dave Eiland would solve his issues.
“A guy like Matzy needs to throw off the mound as much as possible, get in that good routine,” Callaway said. “I think he’ll be fine. I’m sure Dave and him will hone in on finishing his pitches again like they’ve addressed in the past. That usually gets him where he needs to be.”
Matz said: “I just got to address some things and get with Dave. I’m kind of in the same spot I was early in spring training. We were able to iron those things out, so I’m going to get with him and try to do the same thing and try to finish strong.”