Dominic Smith is back, at least for now.
The Mets decided Thursday to put lefthander Steven Matz on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to Sunday, with radial nerve discomfort in his left forearm. They called up Smith to take that roster spot, six days after sending the first baseman/pinch hitter to Triple-A Syracuse when they opted to carry infielder Adeiny Hechavarria instead.
Manager Mickey Callaway has said that Matz’s nerve issue is not considered a significant one, though the possibility of him being officially sidelined lingered all week.
Matz received a cortisone shot Monday, which prevented him from throwing for a couple of days. If he progresses as the Mets expect, he can return Wednesday to start against the Nationals, just one day later than the team had hoped.
The back of the Mets’ rotation is in a state of disarray, but off days Thursday and Monday help. Jason Vargas (left hamstring issue) is also on the IL. In Matz’s place, Wilmer Font — acquired Monday in a trade with the Rays — pitched Wednesday against the Padres, allowing two runs in four innings.
“I liked his stuff. Downhill fastball, good split. Flashed a plus slider a couple times,” Callaway said. “He threw strikes. Got ahead. He did a heck of a job. That was a great first impression. It looks like we got ourselves a pretty good pitcher there.”
Against the Marlins this weekend, the Mets have Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard lined up. That leaves Font — or, less likely, a call-up or a bullpen game — with the series opener Tuesday in Washington. Whenever Matz or Vargas is ready, the Mets don’t need a fifth starter again until May 18.
Matz has a case as the Mets’ most consistent starter so far this season, posting a 3.86 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in seven games. Only deGrom (3.60 ERA) has been better at preventing runs.
Matz’s tough injury luck turned into good news for Smith. Unhappy with being demoted despite a .333/.459/.400 slash line, Smith used all of his three-day grace period before joining Syracuse. He went 2-for-9 in two games. The Mets, who are collectively struggling at the plate, missed him Wednesday in San Diego in particular, when they had multiple spots where a lefthanded hitter off the bench could have come in handy.
Lowrie delayed. Although Jed Lowrie joining the Mets Friday was “something that is very possible,” as Callaway said, it won’t happen. The Mets pushed Lowrie back Thursday and will have him continue to play with Syracuse through the weekend before re-evaluating his situation. He hasn’t played his year due to a sprained left knee capsule. In six minor-league games, he is 2-for-23.