MIAMI — If Steven Matz had pitched as well as he said he felt Saturday, the Mets might have had a shot against the Marlins.
Matz gave up two runs, five hits and two walks in 3 2⁄3 innings in the Mets’ 2-0 loss. He struck out six.
Notably, Matz was comfortable on the mound — including when throwing breaking balls — in his first game since dealing with radial nerve discomfort in his left forearm. That caused a quick trip to the injured list and an abbreviated outing (81 pitches) in his return.
“I felt really good. I’m happy with the way I felt going into the game. There was nothing holding me back at all,” Matz said. “A little erratic with the fastball in the zone. It was just, I haven’t been out there in a while [15 days], so I was trying to just figure out that adrenaline a little bit again. I wasn’t very efficient. I got out of there in the fourth inning, so really not that great.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said: “His command wasn’t off-the-charts great, but that’s expected after a long layoff. The stuff was there, the health was there, and if he had a bigger pitch count, he probably pitches deeper in the game.”
Matz said his curveball specifically was a problem while he dealt with the nerve issue. On Saturday, it was fine. He threw the curve 11 times, including four in the first inning — two of which got strikeouts, Brian Anderson (swinging) and Jorge Alfaro (looking).
“It felt great,” Matz said. “It was really nice to have that pitch while I’m out there, nothing holding me back. I was able to get a couple strikeouts on it, felt good.”
A deGrom decision?
Jacob deGrom had a personal catcher, Devin Mesoraco, during his 2018 Cy Young season, but that won’t be the case this year. Callaway said he won’t regularly pair backup Tomas Nido with deGrom.
DeGrom has pitched better this year when throwing to Nido than he has with Wilson Ramos or Travis d’Arnaud. Catcher ERA, though, generally isn’t regarded as a useful stat, especially when it has been only a handful of starts.
“First of all, things aren’t going well enough for anybody to demand their own catcher,” Callaway said. “And second, Ramos is our starting catcher most days. However it falls, guys are expected to go out there and pitch the best they can. There’s not going to be any excuses on who catches who. When Ramos needs a day off, Nido will catch.”
Jason Vargas is scheduled for 75 to 80 pitches in his rehab start Sunday for Double-A Binghamton, Callaway said . . . The Mets are 5-15 in their past 20 road games, which includes losing both series on this road trip, which ends Sunday . . . The Mets optioned Paul Sewald to Triple-A Syracuse to make room on the active roster for Matz. Sewald spent one day with the team this time, tossing two innings.