Steven Matz is ready to make his season debut next week
It’s been a long road to recovery for Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz, who landed on the disabled list last August with elbow inflammation and hasn’t made a major league start since. That could change this week, says club manager Terry Collins, who told reporters that both Matz and right-hander Seth Lugo will take the mound during the team’s upcoming road series in Atlanta. Per James Wagner of the New York Times, one pitcher is scheduled to split doubleheader duty with Robert Gsellman on Saturday, while the other will handle the series finale on Sunday. The specific pitching match-ups have yet to be announced.
Matz, 26, pitched his last minor league rehab start on Saturday, going 4 1/3 innings with five runs, eight hits and five strikeouts in Triple-A Las Vegas. He didn’t look nearly as sharp as he had a week ago, when he tossed five shutout innings for the 51s, but Collins told Joe Giglio of NJ.com that he was still impressed by the lefty’s ability to control the ball. Matz has issued just two walks in 13 1/3 innings, a promising sign as he prepares to enter a rotation that currently ranks third-to-last with a 3.72 BB/9.
With Matz and Lugo back in the fold, the Mets will have to reshuffle their rotation as they try to get both pitchers back to a regular routine. Right-hander Robert Gsellman is slated for a move to the bullpen after his next start, which will give Collins some flexibility with an eight-man relief corps over the next few weeks. There’s still no guarantee that Matz and Lugo will be able to perform consistently after sustaining serious elbow injuries, however, which could place additional strain on a bullpen that’s already shouldered a hefty 202 innings this season.