For years the strongest part of the Mets teams has been their starting pitching. With guys like Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, and Marcus Stroman they are set up pretty well as they head into 2020. But one guy in the rotation to be most worried about is Steven Matz.
You can argue that Zack Wheeler is a bigger concern than Matz but there’s no guarantee that Wheeler is a Met next season. Matz, however, will be with the Mets and is signed through 2022. As their only left-handed starter for the past couple of years, Matz has not been able to build off the strong seasons he put together for the Mets in 2015 and 2016.
2017 was a terrible year for Matz as his ERA was over 6 and his WHIP was 1.53. He was able to lower his ERA the following year but still found it sitting at 3.97 for the season. You can argue that Matz is a big question mark in a rotation that should be solid for the team.
The biggest reason why we should worry about Matz is his inconsistencies from start to start and also just how bad he has been in the first innings of games in 2019. As a starting pitcher, you want to get off to a hot start on the mound and set the tone for the game, but when you walk off the mound and the team is already in a hole before they come up to bat, the result is usually not great.
Matz has surrendered 23 home runs so far in 2019. That’s two shy of the career-high 25 he allowed in 2018. What is startling is not that he’s given up 23 home runs but it’s the fact that 10 of those home runs have been allowed in the first inning.
The crooked numbers in the first inning don’t stop at just the home run total. He has also given up 30 hits, 24 runs (20 earned runs), and opposing batters are hitting .291. Matz has struggled mightily to set the tone when he takes the mound and there’s no real answer on how to solve it. It would be different if let’s say he struggled with the second or third time through the batting order because then maybe transitioning him to a reliever would be the best option.
But if a pitcher will struggle in his first inning of work, how is the team supposed to work around that?
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The Mets offense in 2019 has been it’s best that it has been in recent years, but they still need their starters to go out there and shut down the opposing teams. Matz struggles should have the Mets attention moving forward.