LAS VEGAS -- The first sign that Steven Matz was primed for a strong spring finale occurred in the first inning of Friday's 8-1 win over the Cubs, against the first batter that he faced. Against Kris Bryant, Matz jumped ahead to a two-strike count, then skimmed the outside corner with an 89-mph slider. Bryant just stared at it.
There was plenty more to come for Matz, who fired five no-hit innings at Cashman Field, striking out six and walking two. Next available out of the bullpen Tuesday in Kansas City, Matz will now undertake that assignment with a bit more confidence.
"Definitely a good way to go into the season," he said. "I'm kind of hitting the ground running now."
Because the Mets don't know how much -- if at all -- they will use Matz in relief next week, they have not yet slotted him into their rotation. It's likely he will appear at some point during the Mets' first home against the Phillies next weekend, though none of that matters quite yet.
For now, Matz, the Mets' No. 1 prospect per MLBPipeline.com, will look to begin what is still technically his rookie season with a fine relief outing in Kansas City, if needed.
"It's real exciting that I'm going to be out here with the team again," said Matz, who went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA last year before starting one game in each round of the postseason. "I'm just excited for the season."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.