SAN DIEGO — One day after Steven Matz’s latest clunker raised questions about his health, manager Terry Collins said Thursday that the lefthander’s struggles are more mental than physical.
“We know he’s healthy at least,” Collins said. “Velocity says that. He’s just trying too hard. I think he’s fighting himself a little bit. He needs to just relax and make some pitches.”
Matz allowed six runs and nine hits in three innings in a 6-3 loss to the Padres on Wednesday night. In his last four outings, he has allowed 34 hits and 21 runs in 13 1⁄3 innings.
A pattern has emerged, with much of the damage stemming from Matz’s uncharacteristically poor command.
“This guy has good enough control that he knows that he can throw strikes,” Collins said. “But when you look at the replays, a lot of them were center cut, a lot of them were right there, and he’s just got to make better pitches.”
Collins spoke with pitching coach Dan Warthen on Thursday and hoped to find a solution.
“Dan talked about what a great bullpen he had warming up, made the pitches he needed to make,” Collins said. “Right now, that tells me that when he’s on the mound that he’s trying to be too perfect, that he’s just missing. You can’t be afraid to miss. You can’t be afraid to miss off the plate.”
Infielder T.J. Rivera is battling a sore throwing elbow that has limited him to pinch-hitting duty. Wilmer Flores started for a second straight game . . . Jose Reyes was given a scheduled day off with Matt Reynolds starting at third base . . . Second baseman Neil Walker is expected to rejoin the Mets this weekend in Seattle.