The level of concern continues to increase for Steven Matz. After imploding in the fifth inning of his last start against the Braves, it was revealed that Matz has a bone spur in his pitching elbow, an injury that he may be able to play through, though team officials are contemplating skipping his Wednesday start against the Nationals.
Matz, who’s been one of the team’s most consistent starters this season with a solid 7-3 record and 3.29 ERA, underwent Tommy John surgery in 2010, adding a bit of additional concern for a pitcher who officials want to protect from further damage.
Though it’s unclear how well Matz will be able to handle bone spurs, New York Mets officials would be wise to come up with several contingency plans, preparing for the worst if necessary. With the possibility of in-season surgery looming sooner rather than later, the Mets may be faced with losing a pillar of its rotation before the anticipated July return of lefty Zack Wheeler. However, fans shouldn’t hit the panic button just yet. Logan Verrett has played the role of spot starter on numerous occasions, and has done relatively well, though not as consistently as Matz. Verrett isn’t on the same level as the team’s other starters, but could be a useful replacement if Matz has to take several weeks off to recover.
But if Matz’s elbow continues to hamper him post-surgery, the concern will only magnify. With a mediocre offense that tends not to give Mets pitchers any breaks, losing Matz, who has the ability to pitch well enough to carry the load if need be, would be yet another damaging blow to a team that is struggling to stay in contention. At a time when the Mets need every win possible, losing Matz would make it that much more difficult.
However, Sandy Alderson and company must act quickly and decide the best course of action, to avoid prolonging Matz’s struggles. If his elbow is giving him trouble on the mound, it’s best to quickly get surgery and recover in time for the season’s second half, a time in which the Mets surged last season en route to a division crown.
Obviously, in the best-case scenario, Matz remains effective with slight discomfort in his elbow and can wait until the offseason for surgery. The same may be said for Noah Syndergaard, who denied reports that he also has a bone spur in his throwing elbow, a potential reason for his recent discomfort. With plenty on the line, but several months left in the season, Terry Collins and the Mets’ front office must delicately balance its valued arms — the most prized possessions on the team.