Just one game into his MLB career, Steven Matz is the talk of the baseball world. The Mets' top pitching prospect allowed just two runs in 7.2 stellar innings yesterday at Citi Field in a 7-2 Mets win over the Reds. This alone would qualify as a successful MLB debut in the minds of pretty much anyone.
But Matz's performance on the mound has gotten lost in the shuffle of an even better offensive day. Matz was 3-for-3 with four RBI yesterday, becoming the first pitcher ever to record four RBI in his first MLB game. When compared to the debuts of several other Mets greats, Matz's performance yesterday is as good or better than any of them, whether they be pitchers or position players
Matz pitched more innings in his first outing than Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Jerry Koosman, and Ron Darling, the four winningest pitchers in Mets history, did in theirs. When compared with this group, Matz's six strikeouts are topped by just Seaver, who struck out eight batters in his first game. Seaver and Koosman, like Matz, both allowed two runs in their first starts, while Gooden and Darling both allowed just one. Matz and Gooden were the only two pitchers in this group to win their debuts; Darling and Koosman lost, and Seaver received a no-decision.
Matz also recorded comparable numbers to the recent pitching debuts of Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Jacob deGrom, and Noah Syndergaard. As was the case in the first group, Matz is the only pitcher in this class to pitch into the eighth inning of his first game. Harvey and Wheeler both recorded more strikeouts than Matz, as Harvey set a new Mets record with 11 strikeouts in his first appearance while Wheeler struck out seven in his. deGrom and Syndergaard also both struck out six batters in their debuts. Matz allowed fewer earned runs than Syndergaard, who allowed three, but Harvey and Wheeler were both scoreless in their first games and deGrom allowed just a single run. Of all of these pitchers deemed to be a part of the Mets' "core," Matz, Harvey, and Wheeler recorded wins in their debuts while deGrom and Syndergaard each took losses.
Much like he did on the mound, Matz again looked better at the plate than several Mets legends did through their first career games. He recorded more hits in his debut than David Wright, Ed Kranepool, Jose Reyes, and Cleon Jones, the four players with the most career hits in a Mets uniform, did in theirs. In fact, Matz and Reyes are the only two players in this group to record a hit in their MLB debuts. Wright, Kranepool, and Jones each went hitless. Matz was also the lone player in this group to drive in a run in his first game—though he actually drove in four. This is the most RBI by any Mets player ever, hitter or pitcher, in their first MLB game.
So after one game, Steven Matz finds himself in some pretty amazing company. If he were to never play another game again, his name would be worthy as a historical footnote. He would be among the Jimmy Quallses, Bud Smiths, and Armando Galarragas of the baseball world who are remembered for a single moment in their careers rather than for any extended success. There's good reason to believe that this is only the beginning for Matz, and one thing is certain: All eyes will be on him again the next time he takes the mound. Or comes to the plate.