New York Mets left-hander Steven Matz has made 236 fewer major league starts, won 110 fewer games as a big-leaguer and earned three fewer Cy Young Awards than his mound counterpart Tuesday night.
However, the Mets are confident their young southpaw is up to the task of matching up against Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw in a potential clinching game of the National League Division Series.
Matz will make his seventh big league start Tuesday, when the Mets try to close out the Dodgers in Game 4 of the NLDS at Citi Field. The Mets beat the Dodgers 13-7 in Game 3 on Monday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series.
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"I watched him in spring training this year, and from the first bullpen that I saw him throw, I knew he was going to be really good," Mets left-hander Jonathon Niese said Monday afternoon. "His stuff is electric."
That stuff -- including a mid-90s fastball -- has thus far translated to the bigs. Matz's regular season was interrupted by a torn left lat and ended early due to a back injury, but he went 4-0 with a 2.27 ERA while striking out 34 batters over 35 2/3 innings.
Matz's transition was especially impressive to Niese, who began his major league career in 2008 by going 1-1 with a 7.07 ERA in three starts, during which he pitched just 14 innings.
"Coming up into the big leagues, being a rookie starting and having the success he has, it's not easy," Niese said. "I remember in 2008 when I came up, it didn't go well for me. For him to have the success he's having, being able to stay composed the way he has, it's pretty impressive."
That composure was on display Monday when Matz spoke. He said he didn't feel any more pressure heading not only into a playoff start but his first start against a major league team since Sept. 24.
The back injury forced Matz to be scratched twice in the final week of the regular season. He was cleared for the NLDS start after throwing five innings in an extended spring training league game last Thursday.
"I mean, I get butterflies before every start," Matz said. "You want to go out there and do well. But at this point, I'm taking the emotions out of it, treating it like any other game. You prepare for this point, so that's what I'm going to do."