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Four innings of control fell apart quite quickly for Matz in tonight’s loss against the Phillies

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Matz’s fifth inning spelled the end for the Mets.

MLB: New York Mets at Philadelphia Phillies Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Matz has had a rough go of it this year, and tonight’s performance against the Phillies did little to stem that tide. The Mets dropped their second straight game at Citizen’s Bank Park and, aside from some ninth inning power, looked absolutely stymied at the plate for most of the night. The 6-2 loss is yet another reminder of just how quickly perceived starting pitching depth can evaporate.

Matz looked quite good to start the game, allowing just two baserunners over the first four innings. One of those was a second inning solo home run to Jean Segura, but Matz looked easily the best he’s looked this season before the fifth inning. Ron Darling on the SNY broadcast said that it was among the best he’s ever seen Matz pitching, noting how he was hitting his spots and seemed quite in sync with Tomas Nido behind the plate.

The Mets, however, could not get any offense going for Matz and, in particular, their inability to drive in runners in scoring position continued. In the top of the first, J.D. Davis singled and was moved to third by a Dominic Smith double, but Pete Alonso struck out to end the inning. In the third, Brandon Nimmo and Davis each walked, but Smith struck out to end the inning. The Mets have had plenty of chances this season with runners in scoring position, but just can’t seem to capitalize as of late.

The wheels came off for Matz in the top of the fifth inning. Didi Gregorius reached base on a check-swing infield hit, followed by a Phil Gosselin single to right field. A walk to Alec Bohm loaded the bases with no one out. After inducing a line out from Scott Kingery, Matz then walked Andrew McCutchen to drive in the second run of the game. The ice-cold Rhys Hoskins then hit a bases clearing double, followed one batter later by an absolute bullet that just missed being a home run for Bryce Harper, and Matz’s day, six runs later, was finished.

Aaron Nola was great for the Phillies tonight with a particularly effective changeup, striking out eight across his seven innings of shutout work, giving up just three hits and two walks. Nola retired the last 14 Mets to face him, and making the game seem further out of reach than it ever really was.

If there was any good news for the Mets tonight, it was the steady performance of their bullpen. Jeurys Familia relieved Matz in the fifth inning and pitching an inning and two-thirds scoreless relief. Brad Brach followed, striking out two over his clean inning of work. Dellin Betances stranded one in a scoreless eighth inning as well.

Even when the Mets started to get something going, things just went wrong tonight. Luis Guillorme led off the eighth inning with a single to left field, and Tomas Nido hit what looked like a single up the middle, before Gregorius turned an absolutely brilliant double play to kill the potential rally before it started.

The sole bit of offense came when the game was already too far out of hand. Michael Conforto led off the bottom of the ninth with a single and, two batters later, was driven in by Dominic Smith’s fourth home run in as many days. Smith’s ascent has been a delight to watch, and he provided a little bit of joy in an otherwise glum game.

Tomorrow, the Mets and Phillies conclude their series, with former Met Zack Wheeler taking the hill for the Phillies, and Rick Porcello going for the Mets.

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Win Probability Added

Mets vs Phillies WPA Chart for 8/15/20 Fangraphs.com

What’s WPA?

Big Mets winner: Brandon Nimmo, +2.6% WPA

Big Mets loser: Steven Matz, -18.5% WPA

Mets pitchers: -17.3% WPA

Mets hitters: -32.7% WPA

Teh aw3s0mest play: Brandon Nimmo’s third inning walk, +6.5% WPA

Teh sux0rest play: Jean Segura’s second inning home run, +10.6% WPA