CINCINNATI -- Even if the Mets weren't facing long-term pitching questions, Daisuke Matsuzaka might’ve been pitching himself into their thoughts for next season.
As it is, the 33-year-old right-hander is making himself a downright valuable commodity.
Matsuzaka turned in a brilliant 7 2-3 innings of shutout pitching against the playoff-bound Reds on Wednesday, leading the Mets to a 1-0 win that allowed them to capture the best-of-three series and finish 2013 with a winning road record.
The former Boston ace, who spent most of the season with Triple-A Columbus before joining the Mets in August, has won his past three starts after losing his first three and then logging a no-decision. His run has the Mets at least thinking seriously of inviting him back next season.
“Absolutely,” manager Terry Collins said, following up by quickly running through the Mets' lengthy list of pitching question marks. “We’ve got to bring a lot of guys in, because you never know what might happen. We’re looking for veteran guys coming into camp, and you can add his name to the list for sure.”
Matsuzaka shut down the Reds on four hits and two walks with six strikeouts despite tweaking his back while striking out in the fourth. He took great pride in stifling the Cincinnati offense during his first appearance in the usually homer-happy Great American Ball Park.
“That’s a very good lineup in a small ballpark,” Matsuzaka said through interpreter Jeff Cutler. “I just focused on limiting the amount of hits they had.”
He gained an equal amount of gratification from the Collins’ interest in bringing him back next season.
“If the Mets feel that way, it would be an honor and something I’d take very seriously,” Matsuzaka said.