Notes: deGrom throws; Matz to start Friday

September 17th, 2020

Although the Mets won’t know for sure until throws a bullpen session this weekend, all indications are that he will not miss any more time due to the right hamstring spasm that knocked him out of Wednesday’s game. deGrom played catch on Thursday at Citizens Bank Park, after going through various treatment and stretching activities.

“It was a good day,” manager Luis Rojas said. “It was a positive day bouncing back right after yesterday’s scary moment. Apparently, we caught it early, but let’s go day to day still.”

The Mets have lined up to start Friday, followed by David Peterson on Saturday. After that, the team has not announced its rotation, though the most likely scenario would have Rick Porcello pitching Sunday followed by deGrom in his regular spot on Monday against the Rays. That would allow him to start two more times down the stretch.

The Mets could theoretically bump deGrom a day in either direction if they need to. Much will depend upon his continued improvement.

“He wasn’t feeling anything near what he was feeling yesterday,” Rojas said on Thursday afternoon. “So we’re going to go off of that.”

The two-time reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, deGrom allowed three runs in two innings on Wednesday to dampen his chances at a third straight plaque. But he remains in the top five in the NL in most major statistical categories, keeping open the possibility that he could vault past Trevor Bauer and Yu Darvish with two strong starts to close out the season.

Back to the rotation
Matz’s start on Friday will be his first since Aug. 15, after which the Mets demoted him to the bullpen. Matz subsequently developed a case of left shoulder bursitis and spent most of early September on the injured list. Last week, the Mets activated Matz as a reliever, but held off using him to keep open the possibility that he might start.

That chance will finally come at Citi Field against the Braves, whom Matz held to one run in six innings during his first start of the season. It remains Matz’s only quality start in 2020; he made four more forgettable ones before landing on the IL, posting an 11.65 ERA in those outings.

Since that time, Matz has worked on his command and pitch sequencing, with strong results in simulated games and bullpen sessions at the Mets’ alternate training site in Brooklyn.

“He’s had a really good attitude about everything,” Rojas said. “Matzy’s got such a great personality. He was obviously disappointed when the first time we talked about who’s going to go to the bullpen. A lot of things happened since then, and then he was like, ‘OK, I’ll be ready whenever you need me.’ Now talking to him it’s like, OK, he’s been ready for it. He’s been preparing for it.”

The Mets hope that Matz can give them two solid starts down the stretch, perhaps solving a rotation depth problem for them heading into the offseason. Currently, deGrom, Peterson and Seth Lugo are the three starters the Mets can count on for their 2020 rotation. Having Matz join that group would at least somewhat ease the team’s concerns.

“It’ll be huge,” Rojas said, noting that Matz will be limited to 60-75 pitches against the Braves due to his lack of recent work. “Some of the challenges that we’ve had in our starting rotation, we need some guys like Matzy to show up and [Michael] Wacha and Porcello, those guys to show up with Jake. It would be huge if those guys finish pitching strong.”