At Citi Field on September 15, Matz accepted the Sterling Award Pitcher of the Year.
Matz finished the minor league regular season with a 10-9 record and a 2.24 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 24 games, all starts, over two levels. The former second-round pick out of Ward Melville (NY) High School started his season with St. Lucie (Single-A) of the Florida State League, going 4-4 with a 2.21 ERA and earning a selection to the FSL mid-season All-Star team.
The Mets promoted the lefthander to Binghamton (Double-A) of the Eastern League, where he made 12 starts and compiled a 6-5 record with a 2.27 ERA.
Matz finished with the second-best ERA among all Mets minor leaguers and had the second-highest strikeout total.
MetsBlog's Michael Baron caught up with Matz before he received his award to talk about his season...
Baron: You had quite a game in Binghamton’s championship clincher. Can you talk about the experience of nearly throwing a no-hitter in a championship game?
Matz: It was awesome. Some days, you feel like you can put the ball anywhere you want, and throw what you want for a strike. That was one of those days, and it was a perfect day to have that happen to me, considering it was for the championship.
Baron: When did you start thinking about the no-hitter?
Matz: I started realizing it was a no-hitter around the fifth or sixth inning. But, we were only up a run, so I was more concerned with winning the game throughout the night.
Baron: You’ve battled adversity, but seen a lot of growth, especially recently. Did dealing with the [Tommy John surgery in 2010] help play a role in that recent growth?
Matz: It definitely played a role for me. I learned about how my body responded to the challenge. I also grew up, both physically and mentally, during the time on the sidelines. I got older and became more mature despite missing so much time.
Baron: How was it playing under Binghamton manager Pedro Lopez this past season?
Matz: I really enjoyed playing for him. He’s really laid back, and let us do our own thing. He was very approachable, and I always felt comfortable talking to him if I had a problem or was struggling. He made me feel comfortable immediately, which I felt was really important making the jump from Single-A.
Baron: While rehabbing, you worked with many big leaguers in Port St. Lucie who were dealing with arm problems of their own. Which one of them had the greatest impact on you?
Matz: Working out with and talking with Johan Santana was very instrumental for me. I got to work out with him and hang out with him a lot when he was dealing with his shoulder injury. He’s a left-hander, like me, and so I felt I could relate to him pretty well.