Now that we know the series is starting in Los Angeles, who should Terry Collins and the New York Mets throw out there in Game 4 of the NLDS?
By Chris Schulz
The New York Mets are in the playoffs.
This is a phrase I still can’t believe, and quite frankly I’m feeling a little weird that I’ll have two favorite professional sports teams playing in mid-October for the first time in nine years.
I apologize in advance to the Denver Broncos for not giving them my full undivided attention around this time of year – as I’m sure they’ll get over it – but just to put into context how long it’s been since the Mets have been in the MLB postseason, for those who are actually still interested in baseball, nine years ago I was starting my freshman year of high school and was unemployed.
The only difference today is that I’m done with school.
Enough for my personal giddy rant, let’s talk about the Mets’ strategy for who manager Terry Collins should name the team’s fourth starting pitcher.
It’s already written in stone that Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard will start the first three games (no particular order) in the NLDS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, but it’s yet to be determined if the robust veteran Bartolo Colon will be given the nod to be the fourth starter in the postseason rotation or if will be rookie Steven Matz.
There is upside for both pitchers if they were to be chosen, but there are definite cons as well.
Bartolo Colon has started 10 games in the postseason, posting a 3.70 ERA with an overall record of two and four during his 18-year career. Colon was brilliant early in his career in the postseason having an ERA under 2.00 for three out of four starts from 1998-2001. It is important to recognize only recent postseason appearances as Colon is a totally different pitcher today than he was in his early 20s. His last postseason appearance was for Oakland in 2013 where he gave up three runs in six innings and only struck out four.
Steven Matz, on the other hand, has yet to make a MLB postseason appearance, albeit it’s his first year in the big leagues but that shouldn’t count against him since it will be deGrom’s, Harvey’s and Syndergaard’s first postseason starts as well.
However, Matz has a 5-1 record in six starts on the year while sporting a 2.27 ERA. While those are good numbers for just six games, the problem is that Matz has gained little experience, only starting six games going into a scenario where he may be called on to swing the series against the Dodgers or close it out.
It is a daunting task for any pitcher, regardless if he’s 24 years old or 42. Matz also needs to prove to Collins that he is healthy enough to start a game in this final weekend before the postseason roster is set.
Since the career numbers between Colon and Matz are skewed due to the difference in the longevity of their careers, the only numbers fans and the coaching staff for the Mets should be looking at when deciding who should be the fourth starter for the NLDS is each pitcher’s stats facing the Dodgers this year.
Colon threw eight stellar innings at Citi Field against the Dodgers by surrendering only one run and struck out four in a losing effort as the Mets were blanked that day on July 23. Matz also made a start in July against the Dodgers, away from Citi Field, and threw six innings of shutout ball and struck out eight.
Though Colon and Matz each had great games against the Dodgers this year, it is Matz who should get the start over Colon simply on his stuff alone and his ability to stike out the whole lineup on a given night, barring if he’s healthy. Colon has an abundance of postseason experience compared to Matz, but he’s had an inconsistent 2015 season and it would be hard for Terry Collins to rely on him in a start that could make or break the Mets’ 2015 postseason campaign.
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