Steven Matz kicked off his 2020 campaign on Sunday, when he took the mound to start against the Cardinals in a spring training matchup in Port St. Lucie. And though it didn't go according to plan to begin, Matz came away happy with the results in the end.
St. Louis' leadoff hitter Harrison Bader took Matz deep on the second pitch of the game, a middle-in fastball that he turned on to left field. But after that, he settled down and his stuff looked sharp as he finished his inning of work.
"I'm actually really happy with it. I think my changeup was down, my curveballs were down, arm feels good," he said. "I think the one critique I have on myself is just glove-side fastball. That last out to [Matt] Wieters and the home run, I was trying to go inside to a righty. That's normally my bread and butter pitch. So that's the one thing, but other than that, I felt good with everything."
After he finished up his post-start workout and recovery, Matz discussed the current starting rotation competition that he's a part of -- something that is entirely new to him. With Rick Porcello and Michael Wacha added via free agency this offseason, it leaves things open for the loser among the three heading to the bullpen.
One would figure that Porcello's one-year, $10 million deal would have him pegged for a rotation spot, so the competition is between Wacha and Matz in the end. But Matz isn't really looking into it that much due to the fact that he was told to come into spring preparing to start for the Mets as per usual.
"I haven't really heard much. I heard I'm coming in as a starter and right now that's really all we have," he said.
"I heard that I'm coming in as a starter"- SNY (@SNYtv) February 23, 2020
Steven Matz gives his point of view on the Mets' starting rotation battle pic.twitter.com/UspPdUgFSJ
"I recognize logistically what we have for us, which ultimately is a good problem to have. For me personally, I'm just going to try to maximize my stuff the best that I can and utilizing (pitching coach) Jeremy Hefner and some of the things he's taught me and pointed out to me and just to be the best I can and try to make the most progress I can from last season."
Matz came in on a high note after a solid second half of the 2019 season, and he said the couple bullpen appearances he made before the All-Star break helped him a bit, as it changed his mentality in knowing he had to come out of his pre-game ready to go in the same way a reliever would in the middle of the game.
Now that he has that mentality in the back of his mind, Matz said that second half was definitely something to build upon. And for the Mets, that could be the reason why he was told he will start heading into camp.
"Yeah definitely does," Matz said about his second half providing motivation for 2020. "Felt like I took a lot of strides that second half of the year."