Entering his start on July 16, Mets LHP Steven Matz had a 4.87 ERA and was coming off a brief demotion to the bullpen.
And while Matz was in the bullpen, Mickey Callaway wouldn't even commit to his eventual return to the rotation.
Since then, Matz has a 2.81 ERA (his overall ERA has dipped to 4.18) and has struck out 38 batters in 41.2 innings (seven starts) while walking eight and allowing just three home runs. So, what triggered the turnaround?
According to SNY's Andy Martino, Matz moved from the first base side of the pitching rubber to the middle of the rubber before his start on July 16. Martino added that the results since then could simply be placebo effect, but that being in the middle of the rubber makes Matz more comfortable.
Matz has certainly looked more comfortable since then, turning in a tremendous start against the Braves last week -- when he retired the last 14 batters he faced before being lifted (in what was a controversial move by Callaway) prior to the seventh inning after having thrown just 79 pitches.
During his start on Tuesday against the Indians, Matz was similarly strong, holding the potent Cleveland offense to two runs (one earned) on five hits while walking two and striking out seven in 6.1 innings.
In addition to the results being there, Matz has looked calm and composed on the mound while often wiggling out of jams that are either his creation or caused by the defense behind him.
One example of Matz buckling down came on Tuesday night, when Todd Frazier made an error to open the fourth inning. Matz allowed two singles after that as the Indians tied the game, 2-2. But he escaped further damage by inducing a fly out, ground out, and striking out pitcher Shane Bieber to end the frame -- leaving the dangerous Francisco Lindor in the on-deck circle.
What the Mets are getting from Matz right now could be huge when it comes to riding their run to the postseason, but it's also important for 2020 and beyond -- when Matz is still under team control, but Zack Wheeler could depart via free agency.