For weeks, Steven Matz drove back and forth to the Mets’ alternate training site on Coney Island, battling traffic as he labored to fix what ailed him. Initially, he was working to get his left shoulder right following a bout of bursitis in early September. Once he grew healthier, the focus changed.
In simulated games, Matz refined his pitch sequencing, aiming to remain unpredictable to opposing hitters. During side sessions, he tried to perfect his command. The Mets remained enamored with his stuff — mid-90s fastballs and big, bending curveballs in the line — but not with his results.
By the time Matz returned to a big league mound on Friday, both he and the Mets were eager to see his gains. Instead he allowed six runs to the Braves in 2 2/3 innings, sending the Mets to a 15-2 loss that further dampened their postseason hopes.
“It always comes down to executing pitches,” Matz said. “The sharpness wasn’t there. Executing pitches wasn’t there. I gave those guys a chance, and they capitalized.”
Most of Matz’s old problems, including his propensity to allow big innings, surfaced once again. Matz allowed hits to the first three batters of the night, including an RBI single to Marcell Ozuna, though he recovered to strand the bases loaded in the first inning. In the second he wasn’t so fortunate, serving up a two-run double to Freddie Freeman and a two-run, second-deck homer to Ozuna.