Steven Matz has done whatever the Mets have needed from him this season, including a stint in the bullpen heading into the All-Star break.
Back in the rotation, Matz made sure on Saturday night that the bullpen gate stayed shut all night, tossing a masterful five-hit shutout to lead the Mets to a 3-0 win over the Pirates.
The complete game was the first of Matz's career, and it was also one of the rare "Greg Maddux complete games," as Matz finished the game under 100 pitches, as Josh Bell grounded his 99th pitch of the night to shortstop to record the final out.
"It's really cool," Matz said after the game. "Honestly, this is what I try to do every game, so I finally did it.
"I think maybe after the fifth inning, I realized that we had a few quick innings there, but I had never done it, so in the back of my mind, honestly, I was thinking just keep working quick and get ahead of guys."
Mickey Callaway has had an up-close look at Matz for the last two seasons, and he said after the game that the lefty featured some of his best stuff on Saturday at Citi Field.
"He was just executing all four of his pitches," Callaway said. "I thought his cutter/slider was probably the best I've ever seen it … He was dropping his curveball in for strikes when he needed to, fastball coming back on the inside corner, I think his first five strikeouts were looking.
"He was just tremendous in every way."
It was just the eighth time in franchise history that a Met threw a complete game in under 100 pitches, with Johan Santana the last to accomplish the feat in 2012.
"They were really aggressive and my sinker and slider were a pretty good combo today to get some quick outs," Matz said. "The guys were making great plays behind me. Wilson (Ramos) called a great game, so it was just a recipe of everything."
For Matz, it was the first time in his big-league career that he pitched more than eight innings, and the first time since August 2016 that he pitched into the eighth.
He's had an up-and-down season, as has been the case for most of the Mets' starters, but on Saturday he was simply excellent.
"This was big for me," said Matz. "In the back of my mind, I really wanted to keep going back out there."