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Welcome, Matz: Lefty's return steadies Mets

Season debut of 7 strong innings bolsters NY's rotation
MLB.com

ATLANTA -- The Mets were counting on the returning Steven Matz to eat up innings and provide some much-needed relief to the starting rotation. Matz not only responded, but he turned in an impressive gem against the Braves in an 8-1 win on Saturday night.

"My mindset was to go out there and pitch and try to win a ballgame," Matz said. "So, I am happy that we won today."

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ATLANTA -- The Mets were counting on the returning Steven Matz to eat up innings and provide some much-needed relief to the starting rotation. Matz not only responded, but he turned in an impressive gem against the Braves in an 8-1 win on Saturday night.

"My mindset was to go out there and pitch and try to win a ballgame," Matz said. "So, I am happy that we won today."

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Matz pitched the nightcap of a doubleheader and was dominant across seven innings. He scattered five hits and one run, keeping the Braves off-balance all night.

His only mistake was a two-out double in the seventh inning to Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson that was followed by Johan Camargo's RBI single.

"I was very happy with the command," Matz said. "I was able to get ahead of guys, and that was what I was going for. The defense was making all the great plays out there when they put the ball in play, and they backed me up."

Video: NYM@ATL: Walker stretches to make a solid catch

Matz had a strong command of his sinker and used it to induce six ground-ball outs and 10 called strikes. According to Statcast™, the sinker sat at an average velocity of 92.8 mph, and he worked the pitch middle-away to right-handed hitters. As a result, Matz retired 21 of the 27 batters he faced, including the 15 of the first 17.

"He used his changeup behind in the count a couple of times, and he threw those two lefties [Nick Markakis and Matt Adams] 3-2 sliders for strikes and got them out in front," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We know he is capable of that, and certainly we saw a team swinging the bats very good take some bad swings against him. So that tells you what kind of stuff he's got."

Video: NYM@ATL: Matz tallies first strike out on Markakis

Matz's performance continued a strong run by Mets starters in recent days. Since Jacob deGrom allowed eight earned runs Tuesday against the Rangers, the starting pitchers have allowed two runs in their last 25 2/3 innings. They also compiled 14 strikeouts and only eight walks during that span.

With the potential of the Mets going to a six-man rotation soon, Collins will get another starter in Seth Lugo back on Sunday. Lugo last started for the Mets on Sept. 28.

Lugo pitched well on his rehab assignment, and in his last start, he went seven innings and allowed one earned run. He is slated to be monitored around 100 pitches Sunday.

"We always thought we had good pitching, but we have just gone through a tough time at the start of the season," Collins said. "Hopefully, they are starting to get in the swing of things."

Worth noting
• The Mets are sending T.J. Rivera and Tyler Pill to Triple-A Las Vegas to clear roster room for Yoenis Cespedes and Lugo.

Jaylon Thompson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Atlanta.

New York Mets, Steven Matz