Steven Matz admits that he isn’t a good bowler. But the lefty from Long Island is good at pitching in for a worthy cause.
He was at Bowlmor Lanes in Times Square Thursday night, talking Mets baseball and serving as the star attraction at “Strikes with Steven” for his Tru32 program, which is in honor of New York City first responders and the military. Matz drew 350 people to the bowling event that raised scholarship money for children of NYPD and FDNY members who died in the line of duty.
“The main thing is looking back at 9/11 and just realizing that these people go to their jobs every day, but ultimately they’re sacrificing their lives on their duty,” Matz said. “… We just want to be there for their families when that does happen.”
Matz’s Mets finished fourth in the NL East, but they owned the division’s best record from July 1, going 45-37. The rotation was a strength with Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Zack Wheeler and Matz. The Stony Brook native isn’t worrying about whether new general manager Brodie Van Wagenen will deal him in order to try to fix a weakness in another area.
“No, not really,” Matz said. “He’s here and we’ll see what he has to do. I think whenever you’ve got kind of new blood in here, it’s always an exciting time for everybody.”
So how important is it to keep this rotation together to contend next season?
“I guess that’s something for Brodie to kind of navigate for us,” Matz said. “I think it’s something that we have special going for us is that our pitching staff is … all really close to each other. We enjoy pitching and watching each other go out every fifth day and pitch, building off each other and motivating each other and kind of spurring each other on.”
DeGrom went only 10-9, but he posted a major-league-leading 1.70 ERA. He could claim the NL Cy Young Award Wednesday night.
“I think Jake’s got it,” Matz said.
Matz made a career-high 30 starts, and he worked on staying focused in adverse circumstances out there along the way. His record was just 5-11, but his ERA was a respectable 3.97. It was 2.51 over his final six outings.
“This year, I would like to get more innings per start,” Matz said.
He’s happy that manager Mickey Callaway will be returning to help guide him.
“Early on, him and Dave [Eiland, the pitching coach] sat me down and kind of just said what they were seeing in me and where I could improve,” Matz said. “I think that’s something that really helped me. It’s going to be good to have him back.”