PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Steven Matz is heading back to New York, with plans of getting into the Mets’ postseason chase by the weekend.
The left-hander, who hasn’t pitched for the Mets since Aug. 14 because of tightness in his throwing shoulder, went through a long-toss workout at the team’s facility in Port St. Lucie on Tuesday. He planned to leave for New York later in the day, with expectations of throwing a bullpen at Citi Field on Wednesday.
If all goes well there, the Mets could start him Friday against Philadelphia.
“Feeling good, and I’m ready to go,” he said.
Matz is 9-8 with a 3.40 ERA this season for New York, which entered Tuesday one game ahead of San Francisco and St. Louis in the NL wild-card race. Mets manager Terry Collins said Matz wouldn’t be expected to go very deep into a game whenever he returns, possibly limited to no more than 50 pitches.
“(Matz) is not ready to go real far, so we need to make sure that we’re not just taking a shot in the dark here, and starting a guy that we can only get two innings out of,” Collins said, according to MLB.com. “So we’ll see where he’s at when he comes with his side on Wednesday and see what develops from that.”
Added Matz: “I don’t want to be surprised out there, feel like it’s spring training. I want to be out there, ready to compete and help the team win.”
If Matz is not cleared to start Friday, Gabriel Ynoa would get the ball.
Being at the team’s minor league facility during a playoff race — Matz was on a field not far from where Tim Tebow was working out with instructional leaguers Tuesday morning — is something he went through last year as well, when he was dealing with a bone spur in his pitching elbow.
But when Matz returned last September, he went 2-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four starts. And while Matz acknowledged that being away from the team at this time of year was particularly tough and tested his patience, he insisted he’s ready and the shoulder feels fine.
“We’re in a pennant race here,” Matz said. “My main focus is on that.”
Collins called Matz a “long shot” to start in the National League Division Series, if the Mets get that far, because he estimated the pitcher would not be able to throw more than 85 pitches by that point.
The Mets have lost pitchers Matt Harvey and Jacob deGrom to season-ending injuries.
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