New York Mets set rotation for NLDS vs. Dodgers

ByAdam Rubin ESPN logo
Sunday, October 4, 2015

NEW YORK -- The Mets have set their rotation for the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it is exactly as projected.

Jacob deGrom will start Friday's opener at Dodger Stadium, likely against Clayton Kershaw. Noah Syndergaard then gets Game 2 in Los Angeles, followed by Matt Harvey in Game 3 when the series shifts to Citi Field, manager Terry Collins said Sunday.

The Mets would like rookie left-hander Steven Matz to start Game 4, but his availability remains in question. Matz has been suffering from spasms in his upper back and has not pitched in a major league game since Sept. 24. Matz received an injection Friday to try to relax the muscle, and the Mets hope he can throw 90 to 100 pitches in an instructional league game in Florida on Thursday.

If he can make that start and feel OK afterward, Matz would be included on the division series roster, which needs to be submitted by 10 a.m. ET on Friday.

"He's going to do some exercising, do some stuff inside today," Collins said. "Tomorrow, he's going to throw a long-toss session. Tuesday, he's going to throw a pen. ... If everything's a go, you'll see him on Thursday down in St. Lucie, hopefully to throw 90 pitches, 95 pitches. But it'll all be determined on how he comes out of tomorrow and Tuesday."

Collins added: "We've got to be smart enough to look at the big picture, because if he goes out and pitches Game 4 and his back issue comes up again, we don't have him for the second round."

Otherwise, Bartolo Colon would be available to start Game 4.

Collins said the Mets also would consider bringing back deGrom on short rest in Game 4 and then using Syndergaard in Game 5 on standard rest if the Mets trail in the series.

The Mets also had Jonathon Niese as part of their six-man rotation in September, but he was reassigned to the bullpen the final week of the regular season in order to prepare for a relief role in the NLDS.

At one point, the Mets were leaning toward using Syndergaard in a home opening-round game because of pronounced home-road splits. However, the need to do so recently has relaxed.

Syndergaard limited the Dodgers to one run and two hits in six innings at Dodger Stadium on July 3. He went 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA in his final three road starts of the regular season. For the year, Syndergaard has a 2.46 ERA in 12 starts at Citi Field and a 4.23 ERA in 12 road starts.

"I think he's pitched very good lately, and I don't care where it's been," Collins said. "He's pitched very good. And he pitched very good at Dodger Stadium. Obviously the atmosphere is going to be a little different. But this is how, I think, you get better -- push them into those scenarios."

Harvey was embroiled in an innings-cap hullabaloo for much of September, but that also has relaxed. The ace told Collins a few weeks ago that he wanted to ease the restrictions on his innings total in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. As a result, Harvey threw 97 pitches in 6 2/3 innings as the Mets clinched first place in the NL East on Sept. 26 at Cincinnati.

Harvey threw 91 pitches in six innings while opposing Max Scherzer in the Washington Nationals ace's no-hitter on Saturday night.

Collins has said multiple times that Harvey will pitch deep into games on the days he starts in the postseason and will not be restricted. Still, Collins said Harvey will make fewer than six total postseason starts -- and just one in the NLDS -- if the Mets make it all the way to the World Series.

The Mets identified Game 3 as the appropriate spot for Harvey in the Division Series because they view that as the pivotal game -- regardless of where the series stands at that point. Harvey finished the regular season at 189 1/3 innings -- a full 9 1/3 innings over the total that agent Scott Boras had advocated for the entire season, including playoffs.

"We are still certainly well aware of Matt's workload," Collins said. "So we thought in the worse-case scenario, if we're down 1-2, we may have to bring Jake back. You couldn't do that with Matt. Game 5, possibly, we'd have to bring Noah back. You couldn't do that with Matt. So we thought going into it, with the rest that those guys have had, both Jake and Noah in the month of September, they could do that if it's necessary, where Matt fit Game 3 perfectly."