Matz allays concerns with solid start vs. Cubs

Matz allays concerns with solid start vs. Cubs

NEW YORK -- On Thursday, after a week of questions, comments and concerns regarding the bone spur in his elbow, left-hander Steven Matz quelled the worry.

Matz tossed 104 pitches over 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits and three walks while striking out six en route to a no-decision in the Mets' 4-3 comeback victory over the Cubs.

"There was a little relief, but this is something I've been dealing with, so I knew what to expect," Matz said. "It's nice to throw 100 pitches and come out of the game feeling good."

The Mets had announced on Wednesday that Matz will eventually need surgery to remove the bone spur but are hoping to delay that operation until after the season.

On Thursday, Matz, who took anti-inflammatory medication before taking the mound, looked like a pitcher who was adapting to the discomfort.

Matz did not throw a single slider, a pitch that accounted for 10.3 percent of his repertoire this season entering Thursday's outing according to Fangraphs, because he feels it puts extra stress on his elbow. Instead he relied on his changeup, which he threw 23 times, as his off-speed pitch of choice.

"He used his changeup a lot more than he has," manager Terry Collins said. "He's gotten away from the changeup and the breaking ball because he hasn't felt comfortable. Today he had to use them. I think this was a good experience for him to have to go out there without his 'A' game and pitch, because he has the stuff to do that and the smarts to do it.

"These guys all have great natural stuff that they've always relied on, but now at his age, he has to realize that on the nights he's not that sharp, he has to change speeds."

The outing got off to a bumpy start, with Matz putting the Mets in an early 2-0 hole after surrendering a two-run homer to Cubs' third baseman Kris Bryant just six pitches into the game.

"You never want to put your team behind like that in the first inning," Matz said. "I don't think I changed anything [after that, though]. He put a good swing on a decent pitch that might have even been off the plate. He's a good hitter, and I tip my cap to him."

Javier Baez and Albert Almora Jr. added hard-hit knocks in the first and second innings, respectively, but Matz settled down and retired nine of the next 12 batters he faced in innings three through five.

His night came to end with the Mets' trailing, 3-0, after he served up a home run to Baez to lead off the sixth, a single to Matt Szczur and a walk to Addison Russell, but ultimately, there was plenty of positives to take away.

"[I'm] definitely [encouraged]," Matz said. "I felt great. We won the ballgame, and I was able to keep the game close enough to where we could take the lead, so I was happy with today."

Troy Provost-Heron is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.