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Mets might begin using six-man rotation this weekend

Yeah, this is going to be a thing again.

Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

For as long as the Mets have had a bounty of young pitchers, the six-man rotation has been talked about as a way to keep everyone healthy and happy. Thanks to the impending returns of Steven Matz and Seth Lugo, it’s getting talked about yet again, even though the Mets don’t really have six good starting pitchers.

But we’ll leave that discussion for another day. For now, it looks like only Tyler Pill will be booted from the rotation when Matz and Lugo come back this weekend. Robert Gsellman, who was previously mentioned as a candidate for the closer role, should stick around for at least one more start.

That Gsellman-as-closer talk took place before his two latest performances, in which he’s allowed three earned runs in 12.1 innings during wins over Milwaukee and Pittsburgh. You can credit those starts for keeping the young right-hander in the rotation. It also doesn’t hurt that the Mets are playing a doubleheader this Saturday in Atlanta, which would make a sixth starter necessary no matter what.

So the real question is whether or not the Mets will keep the six-man thing going after this weekend. A lot depends on the performance of each man in the rotation as well as the health of Zack Wheeler, who is coming off of Tommy John surgery and was said to be on an innings limit before the season started.

According to a report by the Post, assistant general manager John Ricco says that the team is playing it by ear.

“Ideally you look at performance, so if guys are doing it and pitching well within [a six-man rotation], then you keep it up,” assistant general manager John Ricco said. “If some guys don’t like the extra rest you kinda have to adjust on the fly a little bit. That is why I don’t think you will see us committing to anything long term, but I think it’s something we would like to try, at least initially as these guys ramp back into it.”

Ricco also mentioned that New York would continue to use a seven-man bullpen with a six-man rotation. The difference would be made up by having four instead of five batters on the bench.

When the Mets have tried going to six men during the past few seasons, the situation was broken up quickly by injuries or poor performance. Based on how the 2017 has gone, that will again be the case for this iteration. Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see which pitchers rise to the occasion and which mark themselves as candidates for the bullpen.