(Steven Matz leaves after his debut on June 28th – Photo by Neil Miller – Sportsday Wire)
The New York Mets were dealt some dispiriting news on Thursday night when Steven Matz, who lit the city on fire a week ago with his debut on the mound and at the plate, was diagnosed with a partial tear of the lat muscle on his left side.
The past few weeks looked to be the realization of what Mets fans have been promised, as Matz joined the rotation with other young guns Harvey, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard, as well as veterans Jon Niese and Bartolo Colon.
The Matz injury is the latest to hit one of their blue chip pitching prospects. Matt Harvey missed last season due to Tommy John Surgery, and Zack Wheeler is missing this season for the same reason. Rafael Montero, who pitched well as a starter and reliever last season, had rotator cuff inflammation, which seemed minor at the time, but is out indefinitely.
These injuries prove that old baseball axiom “You can never have too much pitching.”
There has been debate as to whether Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson would trade one of these four young pitchers, and the answer should be a resounding: NO.
Alderson said as much on Friday afternoon, “There’s some speculation we were looking to trade pitching, and therefore this loss makes that less likely. I don’t think it was ever likely we were going to trade out of that six-man group…I don’t think that will change our level of aggressiveness. We’re two games over and still in the hunt…Two weeks ago we didn’t have Steven. It won’t make us less aggressive.”
Harvey, DeGrom, Syndergaard, and Matz now off limits, but Alderson did not say that about the bullpen guys. There are plenty of teams like the Dodgers, Rangers, Tigers, Red Sox, and Cubs that have plenty of hitting and could use help in their bullpens. Alderson should shop Jenrry Mejia, who will not be getting his closer’s job back due to the amazing work of Jeurys Famila. There’s another thought: what would Familia bring? Yasiel Puig? Kris Bryant? Adrian Beltre?
Mets Manager Terry Collins said on Friday afternoon of the Matz injury news, “It was not the message or certainly the phone call we wanted to receive, so it’s just another bump in the road we have to get through, someone else has to step up.”
On what could have been done differently between Matz’s starts on June 28th vs. Cincinnati and July 5th against the Dodgers, Collins said, “We did all of the things that we thought were right. We had him throw, had him play catch, he threw the day before, and that was the turning point. We had somebody ready to step in and asked if he had stiffness, he said no, we let him pitch.”
Matz also spoke on Friday afternoon and he said of the injury, “It’s never really pain. It’s just like a little pulling. It’s hard to describe. … It’s definitely frustrating, but it could be worse. It’s just a really minor thing.”
Matz added that doctors “wouldn’t jump in front of the door and stop me from pitching if it were the World Series.”
Mets General Manger Sandy Alderson said of the lat injury on Friday, “It was assessed by himself as well as based on the information by the doctors as a mild issue at that time. If we got an MRI on every pitcher who ever had any sort of mild pain, we’d probably be getting them on a daily or somewhat frequent basis.”