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Steven Matz, Mets get roughed up by Nationals

Mets manager Luis Rojas takes the ball from

Mets manager Luis Rojas takes the ball from starting pitcher Steven Matz during the fifth inning against the Washington Nationals in an MLB baseball game at Citi Field on Monday, Aug. 10, 2020. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

The Mets seem to have a rotation problem.

Hours after No. 2 starter Marcus Stroman opted out of the rest of the season Monday, the de facto replacement No. 2 starter, Steven Matz, turned in a stinker in the Mets’ 16-4 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field.

The Nationals (5-7) hit three homers in the first three innings, led by a dozen runs after five and started subbing out first-stringers in the sixth. The Mets (7-10) began resting position players in the seventh, when Ali Sanchez — in his major-league debut — replaced Wilson Ramos at catcher. Infielder Luis Guillorme pitched the ninth, retiring the side in order on nine pitches and topping out at 69 mph.

With the season nearly one-third over, the Mets have not had a three-game winning streak. “These guys are going to come in tomorrow and play as hard as they play every day,” manager Luis Rojas said. “They know how good of a team they are.”

Matz got roughed up for eight runs in 4 1⁄3 innings. He has an 8.20 ERA through four outings.

The rotation ERA is 5.34. Mets starters not named Jacob deGrom have a combined 6.35 ERA.

That is not what Brodie Van Wagenen expected in December when he said the Mets have “probably the deepest starting pitching rotation in baseball.” Since then, Noah Syndergaard had Tommy John surgery, Stroman got hurt and then left the team, Matz has been bad and key offseason additions Rick Porcello (6.92 ERA) and Michael Wacha (6.43 ERA and on the injured list) also have been bad.

Is Rojas worried about the rotation? “Not at all,” he said, noting that the Mets have 80% of it filled. “We have the four starters and to take Wacha’s spot on Wednesday, we got to, as we get close to that day, start talking about it.”

Matz nearly escaped the third with a mere three-run deficit, but when Starlin Castro struck out swinging on a changeup in the dirt, the ball skipped by Ramos for what was ruled a wild pitch and Castro reached first. On the next pitch, Juan Soto blasted a 463-foot homer to center past the Home Run Apple.

After three homers, Matz leads the majors with eight allowed. That is as many as or more than the entire rotation of 10 teams.

“Two games like this is unacceptable,” Matz said. “I’m just trying to figure out, what is it? Why are they so on me the past two games? I saw some of the replays. Those pitches weren’t terrible pitches, but they’re hitting them out of the park.”

Rojas said Matz was “slowing down” on some curveballs, which might have tipped off Washington hitters.

Asdrubal Cabrera went 4-for-4 with two homers and five RBIs. Paul Sewald retired two of 11 batters in relief of Matz.

Porcello faces perennial Cy Young contender Max Scherzer on Tuesday. “We have a great staff,” Matz said. “Our potential is really high.”

New York Sports