Mets likely to skip starters in September, will be available the final weekend and playoffs

Harvey deGrom Syndergaard Matz Colon Niese


With Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard approaching their innings limits in 2015, he Mets continue to finalize their plan to manage their innings to ensure they are available for the playoffs.

And on Tuesday afternoon in Baltimore, Terry Collins began to shed some light on their rough plan to get their young starting pitchers to that finish line at the end of the season.

Collins said it’s likely both Harvey and Syndergaard will have a start skipped during the final month of the regular season.

But Collins did not stop there. He said other starting pitchers could also have a start skipped to manage their innings and stamina as well.

It seems Logan Verrett, who was recalled on Tuesday to replace Bobby Parnell, is a likely candidate to start over one of the younger pitchers down the stretch. For now, Collins said Verrett will work as their sixth and seventh inning reliever, which means they’re going to have to figure out how to keep him stretched out and ready to start when the time comes.

Verrett has been used as a starter while in Las Vegas, and while he hasn’t pitched more than four innings, they could bridge those starts with someone like Carlos Torres to the back end of the bullpen.

They could also consider Torres or even Dillon Gee for a start, although Gee is not currently on the 40-man roster.

If the Mets are able to insert Steven Matz back into the rotation in early September, one starter could have as many as 12-13 days in between starts if he is skipped in place of Verrett.

That along with the lengthened rotation would limit the exposure of the skipped pitchers to 3-4 starts a piece over the final month of the season.

Collins has said their plans have been designed more to accommodate the imposed limits on Harvey and Syndergaard, and not so much on Jacob deGrom, who should be able to exceed the 210 inning mark this season. And both Collins and Sandy Alderson have said the situation is fluid and could depend on their place in the standings and how big a lead they might have at a time they would insert a spot starter.

So, if the Mets are able to maintain or expand their lead in the division, they may be inclined to skip deGrom one time through the rotation to afford him necessary rest.

No matter what, Collins said on Tuesday all of their starting pitchers will be available in the final series of the year against the Nationals if necessary, and in the playoffs should they qualify.

There’s a legitimate concern that limiting the use of these pitchers, who have served as the foundation of their success in 2015, will lead to a deterioration of the team. After all, that’s exactly what happened in late 2007 when the team decided to rest Pedro Martinez over the final two weeks, and proceeded to blow a 7 1/2 game lead in the division with 17 games to play to the Phillies.

The difference in this case is the Mets have a deeper crop of starting pitching than they did in 2007, especially if Matz can come back and pitch to expectation. It does not sound like the plan includes skipping two pitchers in the same turn through the rotation (for instance, they will not skip Harvey and Syndergaard in a single turn – they will skip Harvey in turn A, then Syndergaard in turn B), and if they end up limiting this strategy to just Harvey and Syndergaard, they should be able to do this once or twice and successfully keep their innings limits under control.

And, if the Mets continue to succeed and can clinch the division before they end up playing the Nationals, they can rest their starters at some point during the last week of the regular season, anyway.

No matter what, the Mets will likely have to augment their bullpen when rosters expand to help support what’s really becoming a requirement to slow these pitchers down at this point. None of their options are likely able to pitch deep into a game, meaning they’re going to need Dario Alvarez, Vic Black and maybe more to not only come here, but pitch well when they get here to help bridge these games to the late inning relief corps.

Remember, innings limits tend to be soft. It’s not so much about the number of innings as it is the number of pitches, pitches per inning, pitches and innings under duress, and so on.

If it was strictly a hard inning count, none of their young starters would pitch in the playoffs no matter what.

But this is a basic barometer that can be used to keep them healthy, and build stamina year-over-year.

The team typically allows their young pitchers to increase their workload by 30 innings over their previous season. Here’s a look at where each of their young starters stand so far in 2015:

  • DeGrom has pitched 146 2/3 innings in 2015. He threw 178 innings in 2014 between the minor and major leagues in 2014.
  • Syndergaard he thrown 135 1/3 innings between the minor and major leagues in 2015. He threw 133 innings in the minor leagues in 2014.
  • Matz has thrown 104 innings between the minor and major leagues in 2015. He threw 152 innings in the minor leagues in 2014, including the postseason.
  • As for Harvey, the club hasn’t publicly stated what his innings limit will be in 2015, although it’s believed to be no more than 190-200 innings this season. He has thrown 154 innings in 2015.

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