6-man rotation to prime Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard
Mets want to ensure those three starters are ready for possible playoff run
By Joe Trezza
NEW YORK -- When a six-man starting rotation went from whisper to possibility to reality for the Mets, manager Terry Collins had to convince even the pitchers in it.
A six-man rotation means more pitchers, but fewer starts for those involved. And big picture, that's the point. The Mets want to limit the innings of Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard in an effort to prime them for a possible playoff run.
The Mets want to make sure those three are a big part of the future. But to do that, Collins had to explain to them why they'd individually each turned into a smaller part of the present.
He laid out the situation bluntly to Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard, none of whom have ever thrown more than 180 innings in a full season.
"If we stay with a five-man, we're going to take you out after five innings," Collins told them. "You OK with that?"
None of the pitchers were.
The next option: "Next month, you're going on the DL for two weeks. How's that sit?"
"That didn't go over very well either," Collins said.
The manager had another less-than-stellar choice.
"The next option is: None of you are pitching in September," he said. "How about that?"
Again, head shakes. No surprise there.
And with that, the trio begrudgingly agreed to an arrangement Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said on Monday he "wouldn't call temporary, but certainly not permanent."
"They said, 'Lets give this a chance,'" Collins said. "Let's give it a chance and see how it goes. If we don't like it, and it's not working … we'll fix it."
Starting the next time through the rotation, each of the six Mets starters will benefit -- or suffer from -- an extra day of rest. Dillon Gee will make one more rehab start in Binghamton on Wednesday. After that, myriad new concerns will be considered on top of the already-long laundry list of worries starting pitchers inherently come packaged with.
Collins will have to make sure his pitchers remain sharp despite their altered routines. He will have to manage ripple effects that pop up in the bullpen and an offensive attack limited by a short bench.
All of which Collins and Alderson hope represent merely difficult means necessary to avoid some devastating end.
"I'm trying to not have any more Tommy Johns. I'm trying to not have any more sore shoulders," said Collins.
"The six-man rotation, at this point, is in large part to manage innings, manage appearances, manage pitches," Alderson said "There is always the risk that guys are getting too much rest. But at the same time, we don't want to run out of innings for any of our starting pitchers at the end of the season."
The effort is a part of New York's strategy to keep Harvey, Syndergaard and deGrom to strict innings limits. Neither Bartolo Colon, Jon Niese nor Gee have such limitations, since all have thrown more than 200 innings before in a season. As veterans, they are also clearly viewed in a different light as the younger trio of hard-throwing righties.
The Mets plan to use a six-man rotation for at least two turns through. If they see problems with it, they will re-evaluate at that point.
"What [Harvey, deGrom and Syndergaard] said when they walked out of the room, I don't really care at this moment," Collins said. "Because we had to do what we think is best."
Joe Trezza is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.