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Why the six-man rotation works for the Mets

The Mets are going back to a six-man rotation, and that may be the best thing for them

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

With Steven Matz’s return from injury getting closer and closer, the Mets are going to once again be faced with the "problem" of fitting all of their starters into a rotation that works for them. While the six-man rotation is generally unconventional, as Eno Sarris argues at Fangraphs, this may actually be what’s best for the Mets and their pitchers.

This rotation is built on young arms that have never been tested the way that they have—and will continue to be—this season. Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Jon Niese, Matt Harvey, and Matz have never thrown more than 200 innings in one season. Even though Harvey insists that he’s ready to go full speed despite this being his first season back from Tommy John surgery, his main complaint about the six-man rotation is that it takes him out of his routine. He told Mike Vorkunov a few months ago after a loss to the Dodgers that he isn't a fan of the six-man rotation. He talked about how it forces him to change his routine:

"I think with the six man and then the day off and then throwing last Saturday and this Saturday, it's tough. We're all having to deal with it. It's not an excuse. Things didn't go well today. I just have to do a better job of finding a way to find a rhythm throughout an extended period of rest like that."

However, he doesn’t have to go far to seek help on how to work through a six-man rotation. Both Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz were a part of six-man rotations throughout the minors to help limit innings, though their respective approaches to handling the extra day have differed. Matz, instead of taking a day off, would do a little bit of work every day:

"Day after your start is a little toss, next day is long-toss. Next day is touch and feel (10-15 pitches). Next day bullpen. Day off. Pitch."

Syndergaard went the opposite way, electing to rest the day after he started:

"Now I don’t even throw the day after my start, that’s just a day I where I don’t even pick up a ball. It seems that everyone preserves the sanctity of the two days running up to the start. I always do side, day off, pitch."

The conservation of innings should work out well both for the Mets' veterans and young pitchers, but what is more important is that each pitcher finds a routine that works for them. The six-man rotation is abnormal in baseball, but with the mixture of young arms they have, and the experience of the six-man rotation with this staff, this may be the best thing for the Mets.