If signing autographs put as much stress on an elbow as throwing a 94-mph fastball, Terry Collins might have fainted watching Steven Matz on Monday at Holbrook Liquors.
But Collins was not there to pull Matz, who inked his signature on baseballs, jerseys and Matua wine bottles for hundreds of fans eager to meet their local hero. The bone spur that has lurked in the Ward Melville alumnus’ left elbow this season did not limit him.
“It’s good,” said Matz, who is 8-8 with an ERA that has risen from 2.28 at the end of May to 3.63. “It’s doing really good. I’m feeling good, and I’m pitching [tonight against Arizona], so I’m ready for that.”
The Mets (57-54) are 10-13 since the All-Star break. They are nine games behind NL East-leading Washington (66-45) and are 1 1⁄2 games behind Miami and St. Louis (both 59-53) for the second wild card.
Health has been a factor, as the Mets have placed Yoenis Ces pedes, Jose Reyes, Juan Lagares and Asdrubal Cabrera on the disabled list in the past two weeks.
“I think we have a couple of nagging injuries,” Matz said, “but guys are starting to get healthy and I think we have a really good team. It should be an exciting stretch.”
In the next nine games, the Mets will face Arizona (45-66) six times and San Diego (48-63) three. They also have 10 more games against the Phillies (52-62), six against the Braves (42-70), three against the Reds (45-66) and three against the Twins (46-66).
In 31 of their last 51 games, the Mets will face teams with winning percentages currently no better than .460.
“I think it could help us, but we can’t take any team for granted,” Matz said. “They’re all major league baseball teams and they’re all trying to win as much as we are. I think we just have to stay focused. You go through good stretches, you go through bad stretches, so hopefully we can get hot and go on a run like last year.”