It was in his third start of the 2020 season that Steven Matz's year started to unravel.
After opening the season with two strong outings, he allowed five runs in just three innings against the Washington Nationals last August 4, foreshadowing what would be an extremely disappointing finish to the year for the left-hander. From that day on, he would allow more runs than innings pitched for the Mets. Soon after the season ended, it became apparent the Mets were ready to trade him.
Three starts into his career with the Toronto Blue Jays, Matz is making a convincing case that his 2020 struggles are behind him. After a strong opening effort against the Texas Rangers and an equally impressive start against the Los Angeles Angels, Matz faced the Kansas City Royals in the first game of Saturday’s double-header and allowed just one run on two hits over six innings as the Blue Jays won 5-1.
"It's fun to get in a groove early in the season, especially when you've got a lineup like this," Matz said afterwards. "It’s been good. I'm just trying to build off each start and get better every time out. That's the goal going forward."
Like any team in win-now mode, the Blue Jays will take wins any way they can get them. But to determine how sustainable these early-season results are, it's worth looking at how Matz is keeping runs off the board. On that front, the process is as encouraging as the results. His fastball velocity remains up – he topped out at 95.9 m.p.h. Saturday – and the change-up was particularly effective.