Mets LHP Steven Matz struggled again on Wednesday night as he allowed six runs on nine hits while walking none and striking out four in 3.0 innings against the Padres.
"It's balls down the middle," Mets manager Terry Collins said after the game. "If you look at a lot of the replays of the hits, they were center cut."
Matz has allowed 21 runs on 34 hits in 13 1/3 innings over his last four starts as his ERA has risen from 2.12 to 5.51.
"I feel like every time I miss my spot by a few inches, they're just killing it," Matz added. "They're getting the barrel on it and they're crushing it. It does catch me by surprise, because I've missed my pitches before. But I think there's just a sharpness that I'm lacking a little bit right now, and I've got to get back to it."
The 26-year-old Matz, who missed the first two months of the season due to a left elbow injury, has struck out a career-low 6.5 batters per nine innings this season.
Matthew Cerrone (Twitter | Instagram | About Me): Obviously, it would help to get better play behind him in the field... I'm looking at you, Reyes. But, at the same time, part of the reason his fielders were forced to handle so many moments in play is because Steven had zero command of his fastball. And, again with a free swinging team like the Padres, it's going to be a long night if you're leaving pitches in the middle of the plate like Matz was doing Wednesday.
I don't believe he's injured, because his velocity and bite are seemingly fine. I think the main issue is that his delivery isn't consistent when switching from his fastball to his off-speed pitches. And, because of it, I assume it's throwing off his location and command. It does, however, get better as the game goes on. In the first inning, though, he's been a mess.
Aug 3, 2016; Warthen (38) talks with Matz (32) at Yankee Stadium. Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Matz now has an 18.00 ERA in the first inning of each of his last four starts, during which he's averaging 25 pitches per inning and opponents are hitting .560 against him. Yikes! That is really, really brutal. He knows it, too, because he is visibly frustrated on the mound, in the dugout, and talking to reporters after the game.
I don't know Dan Warthen's every responsibility each day. But, if identifying why this has been happening for a month isn't part of his job, then what is? Figure it out, folks, because Matz is too talented and unique to always been dealing with things like this...