By: Paul DiSclafani
Is it too premature to start thinking about a starting rotation for the Mets in the Postseason? How about we play a game, then?
Let’s fast forward to next Friday and make believe that the Mets have already clinched a postseason spot, OK. I understand if you don’t want to read the rest of this post today, so please bookmark it and come back on Monday. I’m as superstitious as the next guy, so I understand.
For the rest of you, I have been obsessed with this since the beginning of the month and here’s what I think…
Although the Mets skipped Jacob deGrom earlier in the week, they may be setting him up as the opening pitcher in the NLDS against the Dodgers. Terry Collins has not made any announcements yet (he wouldn’t dare), but deGrom is scheduled to make his next start on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds. Presumably, he will pitch with no restrictions.
His next start would then be on Sunday, 10/4 (with an off day on Monday) against the Nationals, which (if the Mets have already clinched) would be abbreviated at just a few innings to keep him sharp for Game 1 of the NLDS, which begins on Friday 10/9, five days later on his normal rest.
That leaves Noah Syndergaard for Game 2 (10/5) and Matt Harvey for Game 3 (10/7). Collins will have the flexibility of shifting Syndergaard and Harvey around if he doesn’t want to pitch Syndergaard on the road. Either way, they will only get to start in one game of this series. With Game 5 scheduled for Thursday, 10/15, deGrom would be available on five days rest.
But who gets the call for Game 4?
Barring a series sweep, the Mets have to make a decision between either their two lefthanders, rookie Steven Matz and Jonathan Niese, or the only starter with playoff experience, Bartolo Colon. Matz and Niese will not be a lot of help in the bullpen, so if one of them is penciled in as the Game 4 starter, the other will most likely not be on the NLDS playoff roster. Colon has experience coming out of the pen and can back up any of the other four starters if they falter after a few innings.
So which lefty do you choose? The veteran Niese (9-10, 4.16 ERA) has had two very good outings in a row (12 innings, 2 ER, 11 hits) after a very bad 4-game stretch (19 innings, 23 ER, 30H, 12W). The rookie Matz (4-0, 2.27 ERA) has made only 6 major league starts, two before and four after his 60-day absence with an injury, but his 35 major league innings have been impressive, 9 ER and 34 hits (10 came in his last start) with 34 strikeouts. In addition, Matz also shutout the Dodgers in July (his last start before going on the DL) on two hits over six innings with 8K.
Matz has made starts against both the Dodgers and Yankees (12 innings, 1 ER, 9 H, 12 K, 2 wins) and four against last place teams: the Reds / Marlins and Braves.
Someone is going to be up 2-1, so Game 4 is a clincher for either team. Who do you feel comfortable with, the up and down veteran or untested rookie? Or do you just say forget it, and hand the ball to Colon?
I think Matz is going to be the choice, whether he starts Game 4 or not. By the way, he’s batting .286 with a 2B and 5 RBI. He’s only struck out once in 14 AB’s.
What would you do?