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Steven Matz is ready to make his season debut next week

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It’s been a long road to recovery for Mets’ left-hander Steven Matz, who landed on the disabled list last August with elbow inflammation and hasn’t made a major league start since. That could change this week, says club manager Terry Collins, who told reporters that both Matz and right-hander Seth Lugo will take the mound during the team’s upcoming road series in Atlanta. Per James Wagner of the New York Times, one pitcher is scheduled to split doubleheader duty with Robert Gsellman on Saturday, while the other will handle the series finale on Sunday. The specific pitching match-ups have yet to be announced.

Matz, 26, pitched his last minor league rehab start on Saturday, going 4 1/3 innings with five runs, eight hits and five strikeouts in Triple-A Las Vegas. He didn’t look nearly as sharp as he had a week ago, when he tossed five shutout innings for the 51s, but Collins told Joe Giglio of NJ.com that he was still impressed by the lefty’s ability to control the ball. Matz has issued just two walks in 13 1/3 innings, a promising sign as he prepares to enter a rotation that currently ranks third-to-last with a 3.72 BB/9.

With Matz and Lugo back in the fold, the Mets will have to reshuffle their rotation as they try to get both pitchers back to a regular routine. Right-hander Robert Gsellman is slated for a move to the bullpen after his next start, which will give Collins some flexibility with an eight-man relief corps over the next few weeks. There’s still no guarantee that Matz and Lugo will be able to perform consistently after sustaining serious elbow injuries, however, which could place additional strain on a bullpen that’s already shouldered a hefty 202 innings this season.

Brewers claim Stephen Vogt off waivers from the Athletics

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reported on Sunday that the Brewers claimed catcher Stephen Vogt off waivers from the Athletics. Vogt was designated for assignment by the Athletics on Thursday.

Vogt, 32, was an All-Star in each of the last two seasons, but struggled this year. He hit .217/.287/.357 with four home runs and 20 RBI in 174 plate appearances.

With the Brewers, Vogt will likely split time behind the plate with Manny Pina. Meanwhlie, the Athletics’ catching situation will be handled by Josh Phegley and Bruce Maxwell.

Dallas Keuchel is unlikely to return before the All-Star break

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Astros’ left-hander Dallas Keuchel might not return to the rotation before the All-Star break, Houston manager A.J. Hinch told reporters prior to Sunday’s game. The club placed their star southpaw on the 10-day disabled list on June 8, retroactive to June 5, after a nerve issue was revealed in his neck.

Keuchel has taken a conservative approach to his recovery over the last several weeks, and while he appears to have made some progress, still has yet to throw off the mound. The injury interrupted the start of an outstanding run with the Astros, during which the 29-year-old lefty furnished a 9-0 record with a 1.67 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 through his first 75 2/3 innings of 2017.

According to Hinch, it’s certainly possible that Keuchel could return to the team sometime within the next two weeks, but it’s clear that the team would prefer to play it extra safe with their ace. Even assuming that he feels ready to reclaim his spot on the Astros’ pitching staff, he still needs to complete a few key activities before competing in another game — like throwing off a mound, for example. In the meantime, Lance McCullers Jr. will continue to head Houston’s rotation as they try to build on their 12.5-game lead in the AL West.

 

Hinch’s full comments are below: