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Mets playoff preview: If Steven Matz can't go, Bartolo Colon is on standby

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It looks like it won't be necessary, but Bartolo Colon has lots of quality postseason experience.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

It appears as if Steven Matz’s stiff back is fine, and he will be making the Game 4 start (if needed) in the National League Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers. If Matz isn’t ready to go, the ball would likely be turned over to Bartolo Colon for the start. Colon is in the final year of his Mets contract, and has been remarkably Colon-like this year, with a 4.18 ERA while walking almost no one (just 24 total) and striking out just over six per nine innings.

If Matz can't pitch this weekend and the Mets ultimately leave him off the NLDS roster, Colon will probably start in Game 4, and he'd be the only Mets starting pitcher to have appeared in the postseason before. He first pitched in the playoffs in 1998 for the Indians—when Noah Syndergaard was just six years old—and was magnificent, throwing a complete game in the ALCS.

From there, he appeared in five more postseason series, and the results were more or less in line with the Colon we see today. Notwithstanding one disastrous game against the Red Sox in 1999 where Colon gave up seven earned runs in one inning plus on the way to a 23-7 loss, Colon has been a perfectly cromulent pitcher in the playoffs. Aside from a start in which Colon got hurt and was pulled in the second inning, he hasn’t pitched fewer than six innings or allowed more than three earned runs in any playoff appearance this millennium.

Of course, 2015 Colon isn’t exactly 2001 Colon, but he has appeared in the postseason as recently as 2013, and the results were about what you would expect: six innings, three earned runs, and four strikeouts in one appearance. That’s a quality start, and a line the Mets would probably be reasonably pleased with if that is what he gave them in Game 4.

Additionally, Colon has started against the Dodgers once this year, only giving up a solo home run over eight innings. When looking at the current Dodgers roster, Colon has limited them over his career to a .235/.257/.377 line, with only Adrian Gonzalez and Jimmy Rollins having any real success against him. Matchup wise, the Dodgers aren’t a bad team for Colon to be facing either.

So pitching rich are the Mets that Colon is only the fifth-best option to start a postseason game for them this October, and he’s been just about a league average pitcher this season. For whatever value playoff experience and clubhouse uplift have, Colon can offer both to his teammates for whom this is their first trip to the postseason. Plus, getting to see Colon take another at-bat in a Mets uniform is a gift that most Mets fans would welcome.