The presence of a sizable bone spur in Steven Matz’s left elbow creates an uncomfortable reality, one that hovers over both himself and the Mets. From now until season’s end, any start he makes could be his last of the year.
Not that the Long Island native has allowed that thought to interfere with his attempts to pitch through pain and delay surgery until the offseason.
“I really try not to think about it too much,” Matz said before Sunday’s start against the Nationals. “I know there’s going to be discomfort in there at times. But all in all, it’s not something that’s prohibiting me from doing anything.”
Pitching, the foundation of these Mets, has been rocked by injuries. Matt Harvey, after enduring the worst season of his career, faces surgery and won’t pitch again until next year. Noah Syndergaard experienced sudden dead arm during his start on Friday, though the Mets for now insist it is just fatigue.
With Zack Wheeler more than a month away from wrapping up his rehab from Tommy John surgery, the Mets can ill afford another void in the starting rotation.
Matz, 25, remains confident that he can manage his condition and keep making his starts.
“Right now, everything’s kind of status quo,” he said. “I’ve really been able to put everything behind me. That’s really it. It really doesn’t feel like it’s affected me at all.”
Thus far, the pain has not worsened, thanks in part to a routine that Matz has developed between starts.
“Between innings, I massage it out and stuff, keep it loose, make sure everything’s feeling good, just get a little treatment between starts,” he said.
Entering his 16th start in his first major-league season, Matz is 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. On May 25, he won his seventh straight decision, but he doesn’t have a victory ever since.
But in his last outing, Matz tossed seven innings for the first time since his last win. Though it was a losing effort, he held the Marlins to just two runs on six hits, despite dealing with the bone spur.
In a way, Matz has found a positive. Working around the pain has made him more mindful of overthrowing.
“Sometimes, when you feel so good out there, you can overthrow on pitches more, try to hump up, try to make your curveball better,” he said. “But for me, this is almost helping me to stay within myself. It feels like it’s coming out just the same or not better. So, it’s really helping me learn about myself more in that aspect.”
The Mets signed Michael Paez, the infielder chosen in the fourth round of the draft . . . Wilmer Flores was out of the starting lineup with manager Terry Collins opting to stack the order with lefties. Nats starter Max Scherzer has held righties to a .159 average.