On June 28, 2015, native Long Islander Steven Matz made his MLB debut for the New York Mets in front of his home town crowd, and it was a memorable one.
Originally drafted in the second round of the 2009 MLB draft out of Ward Melville High School, Matz took a bit longer than expected to make it to the big leagues. In 2010, he was forced to undergo Tommy John Surgery to repair an elbow injury. Due to a lengthy recovery, he did not make his professional debut until 2012.
Matz however proved to be an effective pitcher in the minor league system once healthy and was called up to the Mets in late June of 2015 to aid in their postseason aspirations that season. He was the first Long Island high school pitcher to make his MLB debut with the Mets since Ray Searage in 1981.
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With his family watching from behind home plate, Steven Matz took the mound for his home town team, however, his debut got off to a rocky start.
The first pitch he threw in the MLB was a wild pitch to Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who would go on to hit a home run off Matz on the fifth pitch of his first at-bat. Matz settled down and managed to get out of the inning without allowing another hit, and recorded his first major league strikeout, retiring former Met Marlon Byrd swinging on a 1-2 fastball.
While impressive on the mound, Steven showed off his skills as the plate as well. While the Mets as a team were struggling offensively at that point in the season, the rookie pitcher gave the lineup a spark, as in the second inning with two outs and runners on first and third base, Matz hit a long drive to center field, good enough for a double and driving in 2 runs to give the Mets the lead.
As the game progressed, Matz remained solid on the mound. However, he did give up a solo home run to Todd Frazier in the top of the fourth inning to even the score at 2-2.
In the fifth inning, Matz recorded his second hit in the MLB, a single to left field, which advanced Eric Campbell to third. Campbell was driven home by Curtis Granderson the following at-bat and the Mets once again took the lead 3-2.
Matz held the Reds to 2 runs the remainder of the game, and in his 3rd at-bat in the bottom of 6th inning, he hit a single to center field and drove in 2 more runs to extend the Mets lead 5-2. Steven remained dominant on the mound and remained in the game until he was pulled in the top of the eighth inning with 2 outs when he was pulled for reliever Carlos Torres.
The Mets would go on to win the game 7-2, thanks in large to Steven’s efforts both on the mound and at the plate.
Overall, Matz had a very impressive MLB debut, finishing the day throwing 110 pitches, logging 7.2 innings, allowing 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6 batters. While at the dish, Steven finished 3-3 with 4 RBI.
Due to injury, Matz only made five more starts for the Mets in 2015, although he did return for their eventual postseason run, and started three games for New York in October. Overall, Matz finished his rookie year starting six games to the tune of a 2.27 ERA, and since then, has been a fixture in the Mets’ starting rotation.
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Although Matz has had some inconsistent performances in the years since, as well as a few injuries, when he’s on, he is a force both on the mound and at the plate, as was perfectly evident in his Mets debut.