LOS ANGELES — The cycle has been familiar, burdensome, and unrelenting. But another injury has Mets lefthander Steven Matz facing uncertainty. The culprit this time is left elbow and forearm soreness that has already knocked him out of his next scheduled start on Saturday against the Rockies.
Matz, 24, will be re-evaluated when he sees doctors in New York following the completion of the Mets’ 11-game West Coast swing. For now, he is not scheduled to undergo further tests such as an MRI exam. He intends to play catch on Thursday, an indication that the injury could be a mere hiccup and that anti-inflammatory medications have already helped.
Manager Terry Collins called skipping Matz was a precautionary measure, with the Mets simply choosing to “to err on the side of caution.”
But Matz’s lengthy injury history sends up clear red flags. The Long Island lefty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010 and later endured a bumpy rehab. Last season, the lefty’s rookie season was interrupted for two months with a partial tear of the lat muscle in his left side. It’s a scenario the Mets do not want to repeat.
“Sometimes in the season you go through nagging stuff,” Matz said. “But last year, I tried to pitch through it and ended out for two months, so it’s better to play it safe and give it the rest when I need it.”
Matz’s latest issue sprung up during his last start, a 4-2 victory over the Dodgers in which he allowed two run in six innings. Though he’s not sure when the discomfort originated, Matz said he sensed forearm tightness during the game. It was enough of an issue to require massage treatment just to stay in the game.
“I was still able to throw,” Matz said. “But it was enough of a concern for me to say something to the trainers and just kind of tell them what’s going on.”
According to Collins, Matz reported feeling “100 percent” than the previous day, though it did little to soften the manager’s stance on skipping the pitcher’s next start.
“That’s still not good enough for me,” Collins said. “I’m not looking at the same situation we did last year where he felt real good and we said ‘hey, go get him again,’ and the next thing we know he’s out for two months.”
Righthander Logan Verrett is tentatively scheduled to make the spot start. But with Antonio Bastardo and Hansel Robles unavailable due to their recent workload, the Mets bullpen is short.
If Verrett is needed, lefty Sean Gilmartin or righty Rafael Montero could be summoned from the minors to make the start.
Either way, Collins said the Mets will likely need to add an extra pitcher to protect the Mets as they enter the bullpen-wrecking thin air of Coors Field. The Mets will go one position player short, which likely spells a demotion for utilityman Eric Camp, until it’s determined whether Matz must go on the disabled list.
Matz, 24, is 5-1 with a 2.86 ERA. He has won his last five starts, posting a 1.09 ERA in that span.
“As the player, I want to go out and I want to pitch my next start, especially with the way I’ve been feeling out there and what my stuff’s been,” Matz said. “But it’s not worth it to risk it right now. I’ve been feeling comfortable with the progress it’s made just in one day.”