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Steven Matz clobbered in Mets’ terrible loss to Nationals

By the early part of last decade, the idea was that the Mets, unlike just about every other team in baseball history, would be immune to starting pitching worries. Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler had already reached the Majors. Jacob deGrom was soon to follow. Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz arrived by 2015. The Mets’ trove was unrivaled.

That it didn’t work out quite the way the Mets envisioned was not entirely shocking, given the nature of starting pitching injuries. Harvey got hurt, twice. Wheeler, too, before leaving via free agency. A new front office made moves to guard against further erosion.

And yet no matter what the Mets did, their grand pitching dreams continued to unravel. On Monday, Matz allowed eight runs, including three homers, in a 16-4 loss to the Nationals at Citi Field, hours after the Mets learned that Marcus Stroman had elected not to play the rest of the season due to COVID-19 concerns. Matz now owns an 8.20 ERA. Rick Porcello, one of those offseason depth signings, has a 6.92 mark. Syndergaard and Michael Wacha are on the injured list. Wheeler is in Philadelphia.

The Mets, for the first time in a long time, have a bona fide rotation problem.

Coming off a strong second half of the 2019 season, Matz was supposed to be among the least of the Mets’ problems. Instead, he has become more susceptible to home runs than at any point in his career, allowing an MLB-high eight of them through 18 2/3 innings — more than twice his usual rate. Homers by Asdrúbal Cabrera, Trea Turner and Juan Soto all hurt Matz on Monday, with Soto’s soaring 463 feet beyond the Home Run Apple in center field.

Of the 16 balls the Nationals put in play off Matz, 10 were hit at least 90 mph, with five reaching triple digits.

As a result, the Mets’ rotation ERA rose to 5.34, which ranks near the bottom of the Major Leagues. Take two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award winner deGrom out of the equation, and that mark rises to 6.35.

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