It’s hard to spot trends after the first three games of a baseball season, but a trend may be developing in how the New York Mets are handling their starting pitchers. Manager Terry Collins has not been afraid to stay with them, even after they’ve thrown 100 pitches.
The Mets’ Opening Day starter, Dillon Gee, threw 100 pitches in 6.2 innings of work. That’s not too unusual, except that managers usually don’t go that deep with a starting pitcher during their first start of the season. In Game 2 of the opening series against the Washington Nationals, Collins allowed Bartolo Colon to throw 110 pitches. It has been unusual for Colon to throw more than 95-100 in his starts. In the series finale, Zack Wheeler tossed 114 pitches in six innings. Wheeler is entering his first full season in the major leagues, and was on an innings limit last year.
Collins typically won’t let his starters throw much more than 100 pitches per start. This is most likely an organizational direction — one that most major league teams have adopted. So, letting Colon and Wheeler throw as many pitches as they did, especially this early in the season, is notable.
There could be a method to the Mets’ madness. For one thing, the bullpen looks really bad right now. They allowed 12 earned runs during the three game sweep by the Nationals. Collins may be reluctant to even use his ‘pen, even this early in the season. But another reason could be their depth.
Modern wisdom states that the more pitches a pitcher throws, the more susceptible to injury they may become. Perhaps the Mets are willing to take this risk because they know at least two of their pitching prospects, Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero, will make their MLB debuts this year. They also have Jacob deGrom and Daisuke Matsuzaka at their beck and call at Triple-A.
If the Mets need to shut down a starting pitcher because of injury or simply because they’ve hit their innings limit, they know they have options to replace them.
It’s too early to tell, and this is utter speculation, but it will be interesting to see if the Mets continue to push their starters to pitch deeper into games.