“I saw it in his face and his demeanor and the way he went about his business from pitch one. I thought there was a little edge to him that I hadn’t seen before,” Callaway said.
That remark about Matz’s face was something that crossed my mind in real time. There’s no way to quantify the effect a pitcher’s “look” on the mound has, but it seems Matz often appears lost or unsure of himself, especially when he gets into trouble. That wasn’t the caseSaturday.
Matz allowed one run, struck out five and walked one over six innings in a tough-luck loss. His lone blemish came in the first inning, when he surrendered a solo shot to Nolan Arenado. The fact that Matz didn’t let this phase him is what impressed me most. He remained calm, cool and surprisingly collective all night.
Too often of late we’ve seen the Mets’ starters unable to limit the damage. Once Matz gave up that home run, I instantly had that feeling that we were about to get more of the same. But it great to see Matz bear down and get stronger as his outing went on, rather than dwelling on an early run. I’ll take this as a sign that Callaway and Eiland’s message for Matz might finally be getting through.
We’ve seen this version of Matz in spurts before. Now it’s time to see if Matz can finally pitch like this on a consistent basis, and for an extended period of time. Now that the Matt Harvey experiment is done, the Steven Matz project is the next big challenge for Callaway and Eiland.Let’s hope Saturday night was the start of Matz providing some much-needed stability behind Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in the rotation.
Today will feel weird for many of us who have Opening Day traditions at the ballpark. It sucks. There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We’re also 4 months into this COVID world. I think we’re all accustomed to hanging at home by now.