Terry Collins was asked before Sunday night’s game against the Dodgers what he would like to see from Steven Matz the rest of this season.
“To have him finish the season and not miss any more turns, I think would be huge for him,” Collins said. “I think for confidence that his arm is OK, that his health’s good, I think would be a huge factor. But he’s got to pitch.”
Matz is pitching. So check that box. But he’s pitching poorly.
Matz (2-5) allowed five runs in 5 1⁄3 innings in the Mets’ 8-0 loss to the Dodgers, continuing a disturbing trend in which the Long Island lefty’s ERA has ballooned to 5.77.
The Mets were one-hit by Hyun-Jin Ryu (4-6) and two relievers, who combined to walk one and strike out 13. The hit was an opposite-field single by Travis d’Arnaud leading off the third. They lost the seven-game season series to the Dodgers by a combined score of 57-15.
In his 11th start of an injury-plagued season, Matz allowed three runs in the first inning. The Mets thought the inning was over when Justin Turner was ruled out at second base on a steal attempt, but the call was challenged by the Dodgers and overturned by replay review.
Cody Bellinger then walked on a 3-and-2 pitch. Turner and Bellinger pulled off an uncontested double steal on a 1-and-1 pitch to Logan Forsythe. On the next offering, Forsythe grounded a two-run single back through the box. Matz swiped at it, to no avail.
Austin Barnes followed with an RBI double into the leftfield corner and Forsythe scored without a throw to make it 3-0. Kike Hernandez grounded a single to center, but Barnes was thrown out at the plate by Michael Conforto to end the inning.
The Dodgers’ next two runs off Matz were less complicated. Turner smacked a two-run homer in the third to make it 5-0. Cody Bellinger added a two-run homer in the eighth, giving the Dodgers 10 homers in the three-game series. Chris Taylor added an RBI triple in the ninth.
The Mets have been frustrated with Matz’s inability to stay off the disabled list. After he burst on to the scene and pitched all the way to the World Series in 2015, he made 22 starts last season. Matz started this year on the 10-day disabled list and didn’t make his first start until June 10 (that’s more than 10 days). He had a 2.12 ERA after his first five outings, but it’s 11.06 in the last six.
The Mets also couldn’t get together with Matz on what exactly was wrong with him. The team called his injury elbow inflammation and said tests showed no structural damage. Matz said he had a strained flexor tendon.
“I think that when Steven got healthy, we saw the first starts what he’s capable of,” Collins said. “But I think he’s fought some other issues since and trying to make sure he knows he’s got to pitch through it. He’s not going to feel good every time out. Again, so far I think it’s been something we know what he can do. We just want to push him a little bit to make sure we get it out of him.”
Collins elaborated on what he meant. “He did have a bullpen one day where he said he just felt great and two days later he didn’t feel as good,” he said. “I think with his history sometimes that bothers him that he doesn’t feel great. We’ve told him along with everybody else, it’s not just Matz, it’s every pitcher in the game that you have 30 starts, 32 starts, you’re going to feel good a third of the time, you’re going to feel terrible a third of the time, the other third you’re going to be OK. Now you’ve got to learn how to pitch when you’re just OK. And certainly I think that’s going to be the biggest test as we finish .”