PITTSBURGH — Noah Syndergaard was trying to say the right thing. The Mets prospect was happy to hear he was sticking around in the majors, but he got tripped up by the awkwardness of the Met’ starting pitching surplus.
“I am glad to stay here, I feel like I have had some pretty good success here, and glad to be making my next start… Wait, are we having a six-man or a five-man rotation?” the 22-year-old righthander asked after taking the loss in the Mets’ 4-1 loss to the Pirates on Friday night. “Well, it’s all about having a short memory and getting ready for making your start tomorrow.”
You can forgive Syndergaard for being confused because the Mets themselves have yet to reveal what they’re going to do when Dillon Gee, nearing a return from a groin injury, comes off the disabled list.
They seem to be leaning toward a six-man rotation, but they are also hesitant to upset the routine of their pitchers, most notably Matt Harvey.
Syndergaard (1-2) is just happy there will be a chance to rebound from Friday night, when he was out-pitched by Gerrit Cole.
Syndergaard allowed four runs, three earned, on seven hits in six innings. He struck out five, including the first four batters he faced, and did not walk a batter.
Cole (6-2) was dominant in dealing the Mets (24-19) their third loss in their last four games, allowing one unearned run on six hits in 8.1 innings, striking out 10 and walking one.
The 24-year-old Cole looked more polished, making his 50th major league start, which is 47 more than Syndergaard, and he kept killing rallies with the double-play ball as the Mets hit into three of them.
Syndergaard, meanwhile, allowed two runs in the second, surrendering three straight hits with two outs. And after giving up an RBI single to Jung Ho Kang in the sixth, Syndergaaard hurt himself by throwing away a pickoff attempt that allowed Kang to reach second. Kang then stole third and scored on a sac fly.
“There are some things he’s got to work on,” Terry Collins said of his young pitcher, who was coming off his first big league victory with an impressive outing against the Brewers on Sunday. “Nobody is perfect in this game. But I like him a lot. Right now he’s not going anywhere.”
Collins said the Mets have not made a final decision on a six-man rotation as they walk a fine line between keeping their pitchers fresh and sharp. Harvey was not happy with a recent performance on two extra days’ rest and said so. He even made a visit to Collins’ office after reports surfaced that the Mets’ were going to a six-man rotation. “I am not saying anything,” Collins said about his plans. “I am going to talk to Dillon tomorrow. We’ll talk about a plan, about what’s going on and make a decision after tomorrow.”
The Mets have also discussed the possibility of piggy-backing Gee with other starters, as a way to manage innings. The Mets are not just concerned about the workload of Harvey, who missed the entire 2014 season after Tommy John surgery, but also of Bartolo Colon, who will turn 42 on Sunday. They are also carefully managing Jacob deGrom, whom Collins reiterated was close to missing his Thursday start because of shoulder soreness, and Jon Niese, who has missed time the last two seasons with shoulder issues.
Juan Lagares celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch in the third inning.
“It is more about workload than anything else and how to manage these guys, keep them strong and yet … not doing too much, not giving them too much rest or skipping them,” Collins said. “We’re trying to do the best we can to try and keep from shutting guys down.”
Syndergaard threw 133 innings in Triple-A last season, which means he will likely be limited to around 163 innings this season. After going six innings Friday night, he has pitched 37 innings this season.
“It’s not necessarily the best results I was looking for,” Syndergaard said about his start on Friday. “I didn’t have the best velocity on my fastball. I was working on throwing quite a bit of two-seams. I felt like they induced a lot of weak contact, (so) I felt like there are some good positives.”
Enough positives to keep him around.
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