The Mets want you to meet the new Matz this year.
Lefty Steven Matz is looking to put that one bad inning habit that dogged him during his career and become more consistent.
“If I had to say one thing, it’s when stuff starts to go wrong it tends to speed up on you out there,” Matz said on Wednesday. “You try to make a better pitch instead of just trusting what you have and all the work you put in and try not to do anything more. Most of the time less is more for me.”
Well the Mets are expecting more from Matz this year as well. Because Noah Syndergaard is out, Matz will be looked at to pick up the load and the lefty know that.
During the pandemic break, Matz didn’t rest. Instead he continued to work with other big leaguers near his home in Nashville. So instead of starting from scratch, he came into Summer Camp in mid-season form.
“That was kind of my mindset all along, when this thing got shut down,” Matz said. “I felt like we would be back together at some point, so me and [Brad Brach] kind of made a vow to each other, like we’re going to be available to each other because we’re in the same area and [White Sox catcher] James McCann was awesome.
“He was out there twice a week for us catching bullpens and simulated games, so in my mindset I wanted to be ready to come in and throw five innings. I threw three innings the other day, so I feel like a lot of guys stayed in good shape and we’ll be ready to rock when the season comes.”
So when the season starts in two weeks, Matz fully expects to be able to throw a normal start and hopefully he will look much different out there, because he has been working on his curveball, which will keep hitters off balance.
“The main worry is the feel of everything and consistency of stuff,” he said. “I have been messing around with different grips, on different pitches, I have been throwing a slower curveball and harder curveball. I was throwing to hitters once a week for four innings or so and so I really was able to tinker with a lot of different grips and different stuff, so all that just gave me a better feel for what I was doing out there. I think that’s the biggest thing, is having that comfortable feel on the mound.”
And if that happens, then he will improve upon his 11-10 record with a 4.21 ERA. Matz seems to have gotten the injury bug off his back too by making 30 starts for the second season in a row.
All of this has impressed his new boss.
“Seeing him for the couple of innings he threw the other day he looks really good,” manager Luis Rojas said. “He looks like he did exactly what he was told and what he was communicating to everybody. Let’s say we’re in a good place, for the next start and the next start until we see the pitch count and the length he can be out there for a game.”
And Rojas and the Mets hope all of this will carry over to the regular season.