Matz expected to rejoin rotation this weekend

Depending on bullpen session, Mets lefty likely to start Friday or Saturday

Matz expected to rejoin rotation this weekend

NEW YORK -- Left-hander Steven Matz, who missed his last start because of discomfort and soreness in his left forearm and elbow, should return to the Mets' rotation during this weekend's series against the Brewers.

Mets manager Terry Collins said he has penciled Matz in to start Friday night, with Jacob deGrom getting an extra day of rest and pitching Saturday. But Collins also left open the possibility of starting deGrom on Friday and Matz on Saturday, depending on how Matz feels after throwing a bullpen session Wednesday.

Matz was cleared by Mets doctors after a Monday examination, but he was given a cortisone shot to ease the soreness he began feeling after his May 9 start in Los Angeles.

"It was definitely a big relief," said Matz, happy that an MRI exam revealed no structural damage in his elbow.

Collins had originally suggested that Matz could slot in Wednesday or Thursday against the Nationals, but after he got the shot, the Mets decided to let him throw the bullpen session instead. Bartolo Colon and Matt Harvey will stay on turn and pitch the final two games of this week's Washington series at Citi Field.

While Matz will miss this series, a Friday start would put him on turn to face the Nationals next week in Washington.

"It's all about their health, more than who we're playing," Collins said. "It's not easy to not pitch these guys, but we've got to be smart enough that when we get to crunch time, these guys are healthy."

The Mets have so far survived early-season health scares with their starting pitchers. Noah Syndergaard also saw a doctor after feeling some discomfort in a May 1 start against the Giants. Syndergaard's exam showed no issues, and he didn't miss a start.

deGrom and Harvey haven't complained of arm trouble, but deGrom missed an early-season start because of lat soreness. Of potentially bigger concern, deGrom's velocity has been down since Spring Training, and Harvey's performance has been inconsistent.

deGrom has still pitched to a 2.50 ERA through six starts, but Collins admitted Tuesday that he has some concerns.

deGrom's solid start

"We've got to start somehow coming up with an idea what's keeping this guy from taking a step forward, not just with velocity but with movement and the other things that have made this guy successful," Collins said. "The other day, he only gave up [four] hits, but in the time he was out there you could tell he just wasn't putting guys away like he usually does."

Collins believes an extra day between starts could help deGrom, and said he and pitching coach Dan Warthen had even discussed starting Logan Verrett again on Friday if Matz is unable to go.

Meanwhile, general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday that Zack Wheeler still has a tentative July 1 target date to come back from Tommy John surgery. But Alderson said there's a chance that could be pushed back.

"We haven't moved the target date back, but a lot of the cushion we built into it isn't there now," Alderson said.

Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.