WASHINGTON -- Elbow injuries continue to haunt a Mets team that is now considering skipping Steven Matz's next turn in the rotation. Mets doctors have diagnosed Matz with a bone spur in his left elbow, according to a source, which could force him out of Wednesday's start in Washington. The team has not confirmed.
The team is confident that there is no structural damage to any of the tendons or ligaments in Matz's arm, and that continuing to pitch will not put Matz at risk of further injury. It has simply become a pain tolerance issue for Matz, who owns a 6.61 ERA over his last three starts.
"He's not pitching good, that's the issue," manager Terry Collins said. "Can he handle the discomfort? Probably. There's no structural damage. But you've got to pitch good."
Matz has complained of elbow discomfort after each of his last two starts, despite downplaying it publicly. He underwent testing last month after experiencing a similar issue, then traveled back to New York on Monday for another MRI.
Overall this season, Matz is 7-3 with a 3.29 ERA. But after reeling off seven consecutive wins with a 1.13 ERA from April 17 through May 25, he has since gone 0-2 with a 5.00 mark in five outings.
"I'm not concerned," Matz said. "There's no structural damage, so I feel good about that. … I think it's just something that I'm going to have to battle through."
The Mets' medical team has told Matz that rest will not do anything to abet his discomfort, meaning if he is going to pitch, he must pitch through this issue. Ultimately, Matz could need surgery to shave the bone spur, though the Mets have not publicly broached that issue.
Those answers will come only in time. In the short-term, the Mets first must decide if Matz will pitch Wednesday against the Nationals, with right-hander Logan Verrett and lefty Sean Gilmartin both available to start in his place if needed.
"Is it going to affect my stuff, is the most important thing," Matz said. "[If] I'm going to pitch against the Nationals here, we're playing important games now against them, so I want to compete to my best ability. … That's something I'm going to have to figure out."
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.