Matz dialed in as Mets' rotation solidifies

Rookie looks sharp against Braves for 2nd straight win

April 24th, 2016

ATLANTA -- A bit of a perfect storm is brewing in the Mets' rotation. Matt Harvey picked up his first win of the year on Friday, Jacob deGrom is making his first appearance since April 8 on Sunday, and rookie Steven Matz is looking like a formidable starter.

The 24-year-old left-hander struck out eight while picking up his second win of the year Saturday night at Turner Field in the Mets' 8-2 victory over the Braves.

"I saw him moving the ball around the zone," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "Not just mixing it up. He located, he located very well tonight. There are a couple pitches he wanted back. He left a couple balls out."

After a debut that saw the lefty last just 1 2/3 innings against Miami, Matz has worked into the seventh inning in back-to-back starts, surrendering just two runs in 13 1/3 innings. During those two outings, Matz has given up 12 hits while striking out 17.

The left-hander blew through the Braves lineup his first time through Saturday night, striking out five. He ran into some trouble in the third inning when he gave up an RBI double to Freddie Freeman, and again in the seventh, giving up an RBI single to Nick Markakis.

Matz, who entered the season as the Mets' top prospect, displayed a good variety of pitches, which is something that has been a talking point between him and pitching coach Dan Warthen. Matz admitted that he likes to work off his fastball, but he kept the Braves off balance while giving up nine hits.

"Just more of a focus out there on each pitch and take it pitch by pitch," Matz said. "In the big leagues anyone can hit a fastball. I do like to pitch off my fastball but being able to get those other pitches over for strikes gives them something else to think about."

After starting the season with a 2-5 record, the Mets have won seven of their last nine in large part because of improved pitching. The Mets hope Matz can continue to churn out successful starts as their rotation returns to form.

The last nine games have been a good reminder of how good this staff can be.

"Now, it's focusing on 2016 and not 2015, and that's going to certainly help out moving forward," Collins said.