NEW YORK -- Perhaps it is little coincidence that even now, even after moving to 4-0 with a 0.67 ERA in his last four starts following Wednesday's 8-0 Mets win against the Braves, Steven Matz says the best he's felt this season was actually an April 17 start in Cleveland. With Matz fresh off a seven-run shellacking in his season debut, the Mets spotted their rookie three runs before he took the mound. He responded with seven shutout innings.
Since then, the details have changed but the results have not. Six days after Matz's Cleveland start, the Mets gave him two runs to work with before he threw a pitch. Five games after that, they scored a franchise-record 12 runs in an inning while Matz kept warm in a clubhouse tunnel. On Wednesday, the Mets spotted him two in the second, four in the third and another two in the fifth, allowing Matz to spend most of his afternoon pounding the zone with strikes.
"It builds up confidence," manager Terry Collins said. "Now he knows he can do it. It doesn't matter what the score is."
The results, for Matz, have been dynamic. Since exiting his season debut with a 37.80 ERA, he has gone 4-0 in four games to drop that mark to 2.83. He is confident and thriving, back on a potential National League Rookie of the Year Award path, and it's not terribly difficult to see what's helped.
"It's definitely nice to have that run support," Matz said. "We've been swinging the bats great, and it's been a lot of fun to pitch in these games."
Entering all but two of his 7 2/3 innings Wednesday with a multi-run lead, Matz threw 74 percent of his pitches for strikes. Every once in a while, he mixed in some sliders, curveballs and changeups, about two dozen in total. But for the most part, Matz pounded the zone with fastballs, afraid more of being too fine than of giving up an extra-base hit.
He wound up allowing just two hits total, walking none and striking out eight. Afterward, Collins gushed about Matz's rhythm on the mound, breezing through a game that despite all the offense, took merely two hours and 28 minutes to complete.
"I think being a catcher and having a guy that works quick, it keeps the other team off balance," Matz's batterymate, Rene Rivera, said. "He was great."
Continued run support can only help. Not only have the Mets scored 35 runs in the rookie's last four starts, but Matz has personally enjoyed 31 of those while he's been active on the lineup card. Only four pitchers in baseball have received more total support this season; that group -- Jake Arrieta, David Price, Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Martinez -- is a combined 18-2.
"What he did today is how I think you pitch," Collins said. "You get the ball, get on the mound, throw it. It keeps you in a better rhythm. You're not thinking about anything but throwing strikes."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. 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.