Mets are making their fifth rotation spot a real battle

Mike Puma

New York Post

13th February 2017

PORT ST. LUCIE — The Fab Five was reunited in the Mets clubhouse on Monday, trying to get back to where they once belonged. Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Zack Wheeler, their lockers aligned, remain the rock on which the Mets’ championship dreams are built, but first comes spring training.

“Hopefully we all have success and spend some time together,” Wheeler said. The first official workout for pitchers and catchers is Tuesday at Tradition Field, and the most scrutiny will fall upon the starting rotation. Four potential members of that unit are coming off significant physical issues, but the idea of all pitching together in the same rotation for the first time seems real.

When was the last time manager Terry Collins had seen all five together? “Altchek’s office, I think,” Collins said, referring to team orthopedist, Dr. David Altchek. Harvey, who missed the second half of last season after undergoing surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, indicated he’s happy belonging to the band again.

“To have a locker next to the guys, just be here with everybody else, it’s a good feeling,” he said. Syndergaard, Harvey, deGrom and Matz are locked into Collins’ rotation to start the season, barring injury, but Wheeler may have to win back his old job. After missing the last two seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery, Wheeler could be displaced by Robert Gsellman or Seth Lugo if he don’t appear sharp in spring training.

With the Mets rotation hurting last season, Gsellman and Lugo combined to go with a 2. 57 ERA down the stretch and helped the team rally for a National League berth. “Right now, because [Wheeler] hasn’t pitched in so long, it’s an open competition,” Collins said.

“Not only Zack hasn’t pitched in so long, but it’s pretty fresh in my mind what I saw Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo do, so I think they need to be in that mix. ” Complicating the equation is the fact Wheeler will face an innings limit in 2017 and could benefit from a bullpen role early in the season. “We aren’t sure how many innings he’s going to be able to pitch,” Collins said.

“So do you burn those innings early, or do you burn those innings late? And that is certainly a discussion we will have as we go through spring training. “Right out of the gate we do not want to get caught up in a situation where Aug. 1 we need to shut this guy down.

We want him ready because we think we’re going to make a good run, and we certainly would like to have those innings late in the season when they are going to mean so much. ” For now, Collins’ biggest concern is getting his pitchers ready for the season. In an effort to preserve bullets, the manager wants his pitchers to ease into spring training.

“When you’re talking about the injuries that occur to pitchers, a lot of it has to do with the fact that perhaps we throw too much too early,” Collins said. “We’re not going to do that this year. You will see [Tuesday] there will be no throwing during the drills.

We kind of figured out that early in camp maybe we can save a hundred throws a day by not having them throw during drills. They will play catch at the end of the day, but not at the start of the day, so the wear and tear on their arms will be a little less, early in camp. ” Harvey is cautiously optimistic the Mets’ rotation will remain whole.

“It’s still the beginning of February, and there’s a long way to go, but we’re all healthy right now,” he said. “We realize it’s going to take work for the next month and a half. But our job is to stay healthy and make sure we’re all ready for Opening Day.



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