Morning Briefing: Matz Takes on the Nationals, Hitting With RISP

steven-matz

Good Morning Mets Fans. Our very own Metropolitans will be taking on the Washington Nationals today at 1:10 PM ET. The Long Island lefty, Steven Matz will toe the rubber for the Mets and will be opposed by Nats prospect, Erick Fedde. Today’s game will be televised on SNY and can also be seen on MLB.tv.

Matz tossed two scoreless innings in his Spring debut last week – his first since undergoing surgery last year to remove a bone spur in his elbow.

“I definitely had some nerves going into it, since it had been so long since I’d been out there,” Matz said. “It felt kind of awkward when I went out there, but once I started throwing it felt good.”

LATEST METS NEWS

Zack Wheeler made his spring debut on Friday and looked pretty good on the mound after two years off due to numerous arm issues. He allowed one run on two hits over two innings of work, Wheeler was happy to make it out of his first Grapefruit league start with his health. “As long as I came out of this healthy today, that was my No. 1 goal,” Wheeler said. “I’ve been going through this for two years now, so whatever happened, happened. I got a strikeout and gave up a home run. All of that really doesn’t matter right now. I’m just glad I’m healthy right now.” Read more from columnist Mark Bowman on Mets.com.

Matt Harvey made his second start of spring and faired much better than his Grapefruit league debut. The Dark Knight pitched three innings on Friday while allowing one run on two hits and striking out one. Harvey’s fastball mostly sat in the low-90s and he believes the velocity will come. “It’s only a matter of time,” Harvey said. “Obviously it’s nice to go up there and throw 97 to 100 and whatnot but you’ve got to figure out how to pitch and pitch with what you have that specific day. It’s been a while since I was facing hitters and been in competition like that.” Read more from Brendan Kuty on NJ.com.

It is no secret that the Mets’ biggest struggle offensively in 2016 came down to their inability to come up with clutch hits. The team was dead last in hitting with RISP in 2016, with a batting average of .225. Kevin Kernan of the NY Post spoke with various players on how they could improve on such a stat this coming season. Second baseman, Neil Walker gave his thoughts on the subject, “In my mind I try to do less,’’ Walker said. “Understand what the pitcher is trying to do and use the big part of the field. Guys get in trouble when they get too antsy and want to hit the first thing they see.’’

NL EAST RUMBLINGS

Bryce Harper continues to have a hot spring for the Washington Nationals as he hit his fourth homer on Friday. Manager, Dusty Baker spoke of how important it is to keep a player like Harper focused going into the regular season. “I’m glad he’s ahead of pace and ahead of schedule and that’ll be big going into April to get us off to a good start,” Baker said. “Now we just have to be conscious of him kind of getting stale or getting bored. But I don’t see him doing that. That’s what Barry Bonds used to do. He would come in, get his stroke together, and then get kind of bored. And then he’d have to turn it back on again.”  Read more from columnist Jorge Castillo in the Washington Post.

Miami Marlins pitcher, Kyle Barraclough is attempting to build off a successful 2016 season that saw him pitch to a 6-3 record with an ERA of 2.59 in 75 appearances. Control problems have been Barraclough’s biggest problem so far in the majors, something he is doing his best to correct. “I obviously walked a lot of guys last year, so that’s one thing where I’m focusing on this year,” Barraclough said. “It’s something I’ve battled my entire life. For the most part, I’ve been able to work around that issue. You saw at the beginning of the year it was 25, 30 pitches an inning versus the end of the year when it was 15, 16, 17 pitches an inning. I think it was just more trusting my fastball, getting ahead in the count.” Read more from columnist Clark Spencer in the Miami Herald.

RECENTLY ON MMO

Michael Mayer takes a look at Yoenis Cespedes setting his sights on an MVP caliber season.

Over at MetsMinors.net, Ernest Dove reviews the Mets prospects we should be keeping an eye on in 2017.

TODAY IN METS HISTORY

On this day in 1962, the Metropolitans picked up their first victory of any kind in franchise history as they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals by a score of 4-3 in an exhibition game.

New York Mets players born on this day include, Jeremy Hefner (31), Bobby Abreu (43), Steve Reed (52) and Dock Ellis.

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