After two starts, Mets pitcher Steven Matz looked like one of the top young pitchers in baseball.
He had a 2-0 record with a 1.32 ERA, .88 WHIP, and a 27% strikeout percentage — impressive numbers for a 24-year-old.
However, after his first start, Matz reportedly complained about stiffness under his left armpit. He was monitored during a bullpen session and cleared for his second start.
After another solid performance, Matz was diagnosed with a torn lat, which will keep him from throwing for at least three weeks. According to the team, Matz was given a platelet-rich plasma injection for the torn muscle, but his recovery depends on how well he responds to it, casting doubt on when he’ll actually return.
What’s worse is that the Mets and Matz downplayed the stiffness after his first start, with manager Terry Collins saying, “After his last start, he was a little stiffer than we liked. … He’s fine, as you saw. That’s what that first start does to you — all of that adrenaline and trying to overthrow a little bit.”
Matz, too, said that once he started throwing, he felt fine. Players, notoriously, downplay injuries and aren’t the most trustworthy sources for diagnosing their bodies.
As CBS’s Matt Snyder notes, the Mets have a sketchy history of keeping players healthy, writing:
So forgive the masses for reacting when the Mets announced that Matz has a partially torn lat and that he’ll be shut down for three weeks.
The general feeling is something like: OK, will that three weeks actually become six? Will that six turn into the season?
So, again, when it comes to a partially torn lat muscle only needing to be shut down for three weeks — which, one must assume, would mean Matz would need another few weeks to ramp up his throwing program before a return anyway — there’s reason to believe it will be longer. It’s an established track record.
Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond illustrated that injuries to Mets players are usually more significant than they let on:
While the Mets have an overloaded rotation of pitchers and shouldn’t be too badly affected by Matz’s absence, the injury is step backwards for a young player who looked promising. As Snyder notes, even if Matz can throw again in three weeks, he may need additional time to actually get back up to game speed, and it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll have to shake off the rust in his first few games back.
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