The New York Mets will face the San Diego Padres for the NL Wild Card round starting on Friday. They couldn’t take the division title away from the Atlanta Braves, although the final standings – both teams finished at 101-61 – indicate they were close.
Max Scherzer is scheduled to take the mound to pitch Game 1 against the Friars: his postseason experience and 2.29 ERA in 145.1 frames this year make him a really good candidate to perform well.
However, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post explains, the Mets could try an odd strategy to make sure they use Jacob deGrom in an elimination game or, ideally, as the Game 1 starter of the Division Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.
If the Mets win Game 1 on Friday behind Scherzer, they may opt to use Chris Bassitt in Game 2 hoping to close out the Padres series. If they lose on Friday, however, they will likely use deGrom on Saturday instead.
The Mets want to maximize deGrom and Scherzer
If the Mets win on Friday but lose on Saturday, they will likely use deGrom in an elimination, winner-takes-all contest on Sunday. It’s good to remind everyone that the Wild Card series is a best-of-three affair.
Provided the Mets can get their goal and sweep the Padres series behind Scherzer and Bassitt, deGrom would face the Dodgers on Game 1 and a hypothetical Game 5, with Scherzer potentially starting a couple of games too if the series goes to six or seven.
It’s a solid strategy on paper, but that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous. Bassitt is a good pitcher, though, and will be playing at home against an offense that while good, is not elite.
For now, the Mets announced Scherzer as the Game 1 starter on Friday, but haven’t said much beyond that date. We will see which strategy they opt to adopt.