Steven Matz didn’t tell the Mets he was opting out from mediocrity for a trip to Abysmal-ville on Monday, but it happened.
Only hours after fellow Long Island native Marcus Stroman cited coronavirus concerns and opted out for the season, Matz went to the mound at Citi Field and was adept only at leaving pitches up in the strike zone.
Matz would have been booed off the field if the stiffs occupying the seats had a pulse, so in that regard fake fans were a welcomed backdrop for the left-hander, who surrendered three early homers to the Nationals in their 16-4 beatdown of the Mets.
Infielder Luis Guillorme was summoned to pitch the ninth for the Mets and worked a perfect inning, needing only nine pitches.
Matz (0-3, 8.20 ERA) allowed eight earned runs on eight hits over 4 ¹/₃ innings. He has surrendered eight homers in four outings this season as the presumable No. 2 starter behind Jacob deGrom in a rotation loaded with question marks that has been besieged by underwhelming performances.
The Nationals turned the game into a laugher in the fifth inning, when they scored seven runs against Matz and Paul Sewald to take a 12-0 lead. Included in the carnage were two drives to center field — by Juan Soto and Asdrubal Cabrera — that went for doubles after Brandon Nimmo took circuitous routes.
Cabrera, who played 2 ½ seasons for the Mets, tormented his former team with a 4-for-4 performance that included two homers and five RBIs. The first blast was on a hanging slider from Matz in the second inning that started the Nationals’ outburst. Cabrera also hit a two-run homer against Chasen Shreve in the seventh inning.
Soto’s 463-foot rocket over the center field fence was the Nationals’ second homer of the third inning and sank the Mets into a 5-0 hole. Matz had struck out Starlin Castro for what should have been the third out, but the ball bounced past Wilson Ramos (a wild pitch) to extend the inning. Soto followed with his blast, which landed beyond the apple in the batter’s eye section.
Trea Turner had jumped on a high fastball from Matz two batters earlier for a two-run homer, after Yan Gomes had singled leading off the inning and Victor Robles struck out.
In his previous start, last week in Washington, Matz lasted just three innings, allowing five runs. With the Mets strapped for starting pitching (they don’t even have a fifth starter with Michael Wacha on the injured list) they have little choice but to stick with Matz, who was briefly demoted to the bullpen last season. He arrived at spring training not guaranteed a rotation spot, but that was before Noah Syndergaard underwent Tommy John surgery and Stroman tore his left calf before finally deciding to opt out.
Patrick Corbin frustrated the Mets over six innings, holding them to two runs (one unearned) on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts. The left-hander had received a no-decision against the Mets in his start against them last week in which he surrendered three earned runs over 5 ²/₃ innings.