After clinching their first trip to the World Series in 15 years, the New York Mets get to hurry up and wait for the start of the Fall Classic. With the Toronto Blue Jays and Kansas City Royals potentially playing seven games, the World Series will not start until October 27, next Tuesday. With nearly a full week between games, the Mets will enter their matchup with the American League champion with a fully rested starting rotation. Some have questioned whether the long layoff will be bad for the Mets. It won’t be.
The layoff is a bit of a blessing for the Mets because their young, power pitchers — Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey, and Steven Matz — are used to pitching on longer rest. The Mets began massaging their rotation’s innings count down the stretch in September, and all responded phenomenally to the extra rest, which goes to say something about how special this bunch is. With a fully rested rotation, Terry Collins has his pick of Game 1 starter, but there is really only one logical choice, and it is the same pitcher who won two crucial games in the NLDS. Jacob deGrom should get the ball when the World Series finally commences.
deGrom, Syndergaard, and Harvey have combined to go 6-1 in the postseason to date. deGrom has been the best of the bunch, with a 3-0 record and a sub-2.00 ERA. He looks like the pitcher who dabbled with a sub-2.00 ERA for much of the year before tiring slightly in the second half. The Mets got deGrom the rest he needed, and he’s been as good as ever in the playoffs.
While the fact that deGrom has flat-out been the best Mets starter in the playoffs should be reason enough to start him in Game 1 of the World Series, there are a few more reasons he should be the one getting the ball.
For starters, there is the big elephant in the room to be dealt with — Matt Harvey has breezed past 200 innings. The supposed limit set by agent Scott Boras and Dr. James Andrews was 180. Harvey has shucked that limit, and pitched deep into the eighth inning in his NLCS start. The innings limit and Harvey’s future, however, still cloud the player and team. It’s hard to imagine the Mets starting Harvey on three days rest in the World Series, and that is something you must have from your Game 1 starter. Syndergaard, too, is not really to be trusted with a start on short rest. He has been good in the playoffs, but slightly erratic. The rookie is not the one you want taking the ball on three days rest.
Using deGrom in Game 1 would allow the Mets to maximize their best pitcher right now similar to the way the San Francisco Giants rode Madison Bumgarner to the title last year. As it sets up now, deGrom could pitch Games 1, 4, and likely be available for relief should Game 7 get played. The Mets could decide to go with Steven Matz in Game 4 if the first three games of the series go well. That would buy deGrom an extra day of rest. Down 2-1 or 3-0, deGrom pitches Game 4. Otherwise, he rests.
Here’s how I envision the series shaking out for the Mets and their starting pitching:
Game 1, October 27: deGrom
Game 2, October 28: Syndergaard
Game 3, October 30: Harvey
Game 4, October 31: deGrom or Matz
Game 5, November 1: deGrom or Matz
Game 6, November 3: Syndergaard
Game 7, November 4: Harvey with deGrom piggybacking
With that rotation, Syndergaard and Harvey get to pitch on full rest. The rookie Matz, who did not pitch much in the regular season, can be avoided altogether if the Mets so choose to tighten things up. All in all, having to decide between deGrom, Syndergaard, and Harvey to start Game 1 of the World Series is a nice problem to have. There is really only one correct call for the Mets, and I fully expect Terry Collins to tab Jacob deGrom when the World Series finally gets under way next week.