Steven Matz will bring a little of Long Island's baseball past with him to the mound Sunday when he makes his major-league debut for the Mets against the Reds at Citi Field.
The lefthander from Ward Melville High School was tutored during his apprenticeship by Mets minor-league coach Frank Viola, a former Cy Young Award winner and three-time All-Star who went to East Meadow High School.
"I think the big advantage for me was he was my first pitching coach," Matz said of Viola, who was reunited with Matz at Triple-A Las Vegas this year. "This year, it was just fine-tuning everything, and he's big for me on the mental part of the game."
Viola won 176 games in a 15-year big-league career, including 20 with the Mets in 1990. He is part of the fraternity of Long Island high school stars who went on to play in the majors. It's a group Matz will join when he throws his first pitch as a big-leaguer.
According to WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which measures a player's total value, Viola is the third-best player to come from a Long Island high school in baseball history. Viola had a career WAR of 47.4, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
The top two players from Long Island schools aren't hard to figure out no matter what metric you employ.
Carl Yastrzemski, the Hall of Famer from Bridgehampton, is No. 1 with a career WAR of 96.1.
Former Astros star Craig Biggio, who will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month, is second with a career WAR of 65.1.
Rounding out the top 10: Dennis Leonard (Oceanside, 26.1); Bob Shaw (Garden City, 19.1); Pete Harnisch (Commack North, 19.0); Tony Graffanino (East Islip, 15.1); Frank Catalanotto (Smithtown, 14.6); Herb Score (Valley Stream Central, 14.0); Pete Richert (Sewanhaka, 13.3).
Matz and injured Blue Jays righthander Marcus Stroman (Patchogue-Medford, 2.0) have a chance to end up near the top of the list when their careers are over. But that won't be for a long time if all goes well for the two pitching prodigies, one of whom will get things started Sunday.