Two-time Cy Young Award winner Jacob deGrom might not start either of the New York Mets’ first two postseason games as part of the team’s rotation strategy.
Manager Buck Showalter confirmed Thursday that co-ace Max Scherzer, a three-time Cy Young Award winner, would start Game 1 of the National League wild-card series against the visiting San Diego Padres on Friday.
Showalter didn’t announce his Game 2 starter, indicating it could be deGrom or Chris Bassitt.
“They know the order, how it may fluctuate,” Showalter said. “It’s kind of been a strength of our club is that guys don’t let their ego get in the way of it: ‘Tell me when I can contribute, and I will.'”
The decision apparently will come down to the Mets’ result in the opener against the Padres. If New York wins Game 1, Bassitt (15-9, 3.42 ERA) likely would start Game 2, leaving deGrom (5-4, 3.08 ERA) available to start Game 3 if necessary.
If the Mets lose Game 1, deGrom would take the ball for Game 2.
The theory behind the maneuverings: Should the Mets sweep the Padres without using deGrom, that puts deGrom on track to start Game 1 and Game 5 of the best-of-five NL Division Series against the league-best Los Angeles Dodgers.
If deGrom starts Game 2 against San Diego on Saturday, assuming the team wants him to have at least the standard four days’ rest, he wouldn’t be back on the mound before Game 3 against Los Angeles on Oct. 14. So, the Mets would have Scherzer (11-5, 2.29 ERA) and deGrom in Games 2 and 3 of the NLDS in that scenario, as opposed to deGrom and Scherzer in Games 1 and 2 versus Los Angeles and deGrom in Game 5 should they sweep the Padres without using deGrom.
“We talked about this a week ago at least,” Showalter said. “They’ve been aware for a long time where it falls.”
New York general manager Billy Eppler said, according to MLB.com, “We’ve got to take care of business starting on Day 1. That starts (Friday) with Max. What comes after that, we’ll just kind of take all the information as it comes in. Everything is a data point. Everything has a learning benefit to it. So we’ll take that, make the decisions on Day 2 and go from there.”
The Padres aren’t engaging in any subterfuge, as they will go with their top two starters, Yu Darvish (16-8, 3.10 ERA) and Blake Snell (8-10, 3.38 ERA), in Games 1 and 2, respectively.
Joe Musgrove (10-7, 2.93 ERA) is the favorite to start Game 3 for San Diego.