Saturday's game paired a pair of pitchers who were the first draft pick of their teams - Steven Matz in the second round in 2009 for the Mets in and Lucas Sims, the Braves first round selection in 2012. Matz threw a career-high eight innings, allowing three runs, two earned on four hits. He walked one and faned five. In recent starts, he's been throwing his fastball 92-96 mph. It looked like that on Saturday. He threw a few changeups that were MLB quality, plus even. He threw some others that were not as impressive. That's the way it works in a-ball. His slider looks like it's gotten a little sweepier - with a bigger break - in the last few weeks. Gnats Pitching Coach Frank Viola told me that the next step for Matz with his slider is finding and using a more consistent release point.
Matz's last six starts: 32.1 IP, 20 H, 9 R, 8 ER, 9 BB, 36 K. He's had a 2.23 ERA and an opponents' line of .179/.238/.286. The fact that he's throwing, throwing well and getting better is one of the best stories in the Mets' system this year. He's thrown 64 innings so far, and I believe the plan is for him to hit 105 innings after 29 innings last year for Kingsport. That would give him seven more starts averaging just under six innings per start.
Sims on the other side for the Braves was 93-94 with a slider. He did a good job expanding the zone with the slider. I don't think he threw five changeups in the game. On the other hand, he was much improved versus when the Gnats saw him in April.
Sunday, Luis Cessa delivered another strong outing: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 HR. The homerun he allowed was an absolute blast by Braves' C Chase Anselment to the big part of Historic Grayson Stadium in rightcenter. Otherwise, he just rolled through the Braves order, throwing strikes and mixing in his changeup and breaking ball for strikes. He did not go above 17 pitches in any one inning. Cessa now in his last six starts: 41.2 IP, 34 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 6 BB, 39 K. That's a 1.51 ERA, an opposing batting line of .224/.253/.289, a strikeout rate of 24.5% and a walk rate of 3.8%. He's 21 years old, and is pitching well enough that he could certainly succeed in advanced-A.
Daily Nimmo20-year-old CF Brandon Nimmo had a hit and a walk Saturday and three knocks on Sunday. Saturday, he blooped a soft single into shallow left field. Sunday, twice he blooped soft singles into shallow left and once hit a hard line drive up the middle into right-center. I think this is some kind of progress for Nimmo on working into left field. He's keeping his hands inside the ball better and making contact the other way while showing the strength at a young age to muscle a ball into shallow left. Hey, it beats grounding out to second. He's hit just .175/.267/.175 (7-for-40) after the All-Star Break with zero extra-base hits to pull his overall line to .277/.378/.371.