<
>

PCL opponents: Steven Matz 'the real deal'

NEW YORK -- Left-handed pitching prospect Steven Matz is earning high praise from opposing batters in the Pacific Coast League.

Matz, 23, limited Triple-A Reno to one run on five hits and two walks while striking out 12 in seven innings Thursday in Las Vegas.

Six days earlier against the same Arizona Diamondbacks affiliate, Matz took a no-hit bid two outs into the seventh inning before ex-Met Nick Evans broke it up with a single.

In five appearances this season with Las Vegas, Matz is 3-1 with a 1.84 ERA. Opponents have a .184 batting average against him, and Matz has a 1.091 WHIP. The Long Island native has struck out 31 in 29 1/3 innings.

"He's got really explosive stuff," Evans said. "He pounds the zone. He's got really good stuff. I think the fastball was mid-90s, but it looks like he's handing you the ball almost. It just explodes out of his hand, onto you. It's pretty impressive. He definitely throws a good curveball. And he throws his changeup for a strike."

The Mets have a stretch of 20 games in 20 days beginning next Friday in Philadelphia.

Manager Terry Collins said the Mets might use a spot starter during that stretch if the workloads seem taxing for the regular five members of the rotation. That potential spot start might have gone to Rafael Montero, as one did in Miami on Tuesday. But Montero now is on the disabled list with rotator-cuff inflammation.

Among other candidates, Matz seems like the best bet right now over Noah Syndergaard for a spot start with the Mets.

Asked what he would think about Matz being in the majors later this month, Evans said: "I wouldn't flinch at all. He's definitely been the best arm we've seen in this league so far this year. The consensus on our team is he's the real deal."