<
>

Steven Matz rocked in season debut; Mets in a pickle

NEW YORK -- Steven Matz is eligible for the National League Rookie of the Year Award this season. His campaign got off to a catastrophic start on Monday, which left the New York Mets in a pitching bind.

Matz allowed seven runs in the second inning of his season debut, with Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton's two-run homer knocking the 24-year-old southpaw out of the game with two outs in the frame.

It marked the shortest outing by a Mets starter since Jonathon Niese recorded only one out against the Texas Rangers on July 4, 2014. In that game, Niese was struck in the lower back by a line drive off the bat of Alex Rios.

The Mets ultimately lost, 10-3, to suffer their third straight defeat and drop to 2-4 on the season.

Matz’s quick exit was particularly devastating because the Mets are down a pitcher at the moment. Jacob deGrom left the ballpark around 3 p.m. ET to take a private jet to Florida to be with his wife, Stacey, who had gone into labor with the couple’s first child.

DeGrom had already been scratched from Wednesday’s start because of right lat tightness. Logan Verrett, who normally would have mopped up after Matz departed, needed to be held back to start Wednesday in place of deGrom.

Hansel Robles, Antonio Bastardo, Addison Reed, Jeurys Familia and Jerry Blevins instead combined to soak up 7 2/3 relief innings.

The Mets hoped to avoid putting deGrom on paternity leave because it would prevent the organization from later putting him on the disabled list -- if necessary -- and backdating the DL stint to his start on Friday.

Now, with the bullpen required to perform heavy lifting in relief of Matz, team officials might have no choice but to place deGrom on paternity leave and make the call to Triple-A Las Vegas for left-hander Sean Gilmartin. If that transpires and deGrom then lands on the DL, he will have to serve a full 15 days after the paternity leave is over.

Alternatively, the Mets could place deGrom on the DL now because of the lat issue, but that would make him ineligible to pitch until April 24, potentially depriving the club of his services while he is capable of pitching.

Matz threw 40 pitches in the second inning and 59 pitches overall before he was pulled. He was charged with seven runs on six hits and two walks. Despite his struggles, he came close to wriggling free with the Mets trailing 3-0. Instead, Christian Yelich delivered a two-out, two-run single, and Stanton followed with the two-run homer for a 7-0 lead that prompted manager Terry Collins to summon Robles from the bullpen.

Stanton, despite being only 26 years old, is tied with Albert Pujols for fourth among active players in career homers against the Mets, with 22. Ryan Howard leads that list with 45, followed by Chase Utley with 35 and Jimmy Rollins with 33.

Matz was unbeaten in the regular season last year, as he went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA in six starts. He suffered a loss against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Division Series.

Matz remains eligible for the NL Rookie of the Year Award because he logged only 35 2/3 innings during the regular season last year and spent two months on the disabled list with a lat strain after debuting June 28.

Collins had been uncertain what he would get from Matz in his season debut. After all, the southpaw had not pitched in a game in 10 days. Matz had tossed five no-hit innings against the Chicago Cubs in an exhibition game on the eve of the season in Las Vegas.

It's over: Batters had been 0-for-21 against Blevins in the southpaw's two seasons as a Met before Dee Gordon's two-out infield single in the ninth.

What's next: The Mets turn to Noah Syndergaard on Tuesday to try to halt their skid. Syndergaard opposes right-hander Jose Fernandez in a marquee matchup on Tuesday at 7:10 p.m. ET.