Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker?

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In a sense, there shouldn’t be much to ponder for the Mets. Just line up Jacob deGrom, Max Scherzer, Chris Bassitt and Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker for the playoff pitching rotation and go from there.

And maybe it will be that way.

But given the NL East’s indecisive run and the possibility that the Mets could still end up playing a best-of-three joker trick, there’s some nuance involved for the team’s brass in trying to get it right.

As it stands, the Mets have 11 games left, which means two rounds in the rotation for each of the five. There could be a third round for someone if needed, or if the Mets clinched the division before the Oct. 5 regular season finale against Washington, a bullpen game could easily be arranged behind, say, a start of deGrom shortcut.

Where it gets sticky is trying to figure out how to handle their ace deGrom if that regular season finale means anything. By launching deGrom next Friday in Atlanta, the Mets would be able to start him five days later if the division was still unstable. The risk would be potentially knocking deGrom out of the wild card round if the Mets were to do their best to win the division and miss. The wild card games would take place on Friday and end on Sunday, meaning deGrom would have to throw a short rest for Game 3 if he started the regular season finale.

Jacob deGrom’s availability for a possible wildcard round will likely depend on how badly the Mets need him to avoid this series in the first place.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

“I think it’s one of those things where the Atlanta series will give us a pretty clear direction that we’re going one way or the other,” pitching coach Jeremy Hefner told Post. Sports +.

The Mets, with a win in Atlanta, would own the division tiebreaker based on a head-to-head record. That means if the Mets extend their NL East lead to three games by the time they leave Truist Park a week from Sunday, the race would be over.

The goal in the coming days is to get the bye and advance straight to the NLDS, where the Mets could easily line up their rotation and consider whether they would go with Walker or Carrasco if they opted for a four-way playoff rotation.

“An element of a warm hand, an element of who feels good,” Hefner said of how the team will determine who takes the mound in October. “Guys take care [ailments] throughout the year, and it will probably be a certain determination. The missing bats are important. It’s important to knock people out in the playoffs, limit home runs, that kind of stuff, so we’re kind of going to take all of that into account and make the best decision we can.

Carrasco has struck out 24.1 percent of the batters he has faced this season. Walker struck back 19 percent. Pitchers have had similar success limiting home runs. Carrasco allowed a homer every 9.6 innings. Walker gave up one every 10.6 innings. There is a big difference in odor percentage (swings-and-miss vs. swings) between the two: Carrasco has an odor rate of 28.2% and Walker is at 22.4%.

Carlos Carrasco, Taijuan walker
The decision to go with Carlos Carrasco or Taijuan Walker in the playoffs will come down to who the Mets think has a better chance of hitting the guys in October.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post (2)

“Anything they want me to do,” Walker said this week. “It’s my ninth year in the major leagues. If they want me to start, I can do it. If they want me to go in the bullpen, I can do it too. I know how to prepare I know what my body needs, so whatever the team needs, I’m there for them.

Hefner was asked what he likes most about his rotation these days.

“There is no foot on the pedal,” he said. “They are consistent. It’s been full throttle the entire time, and the attention to their craft has been impeccable and that hasn’t changed. You use the shark analogy where there is blood in the water and they smell it. I don’t think it’s just beginners. I think it’s our whole group.

Max is ready for a change

New York Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) in the dugout when the New York Mets played the Washington Nationals on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2022 at Citi Field in Queens.
Max Scherzer is confident he can adapt quickly and successfully to the pitch clock that will arrive in the majors next season.
robert sabo

Scherzer has already given a lot of thought to next year’s rule changes, which will include a pitch clock and the elimination of defensive changes. And he’s confident he’ll benefit more than most players.

“I understand what those rules are and I think that’s going to help me,” Scherzer said. “I can work quickly. It’s not a problem on my side.

But Scherzer declined to say how, exactly, he would be helped.

“Read the rules and think about how I throw and that’s how I’m going to throw it,” Scherzer said. “I’m not going to sit here and complain – yes, I can say ‘X, Y, Z’ – but at the end of the day these are the rules and I’m not going to complain about the rules. I’m going to use them and find a way to make them work for me.

The best laid plans of commentators and managers

New York Mets manager Buck Showalter #11 returns to the dugout after pulling New York Mets starting pitcher Taijuan Walker #99 out of the game in the 6th inning.
Buck Showalter’s plan for realigning divisions would eliminate a few teams, but would make more geographical sense and help create a more paced schedule.
Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Buck Showalter this week recounted a plan he first laid out while working at ESPN a few years ago for how he would solve baseball’s roster and scheduling issues.

His first idea was to eliminate the AL and NL as we know them and place the Mets, Yankees, Red Sox, Phillies, Nationals, Orioles and Blue Jays in one division. There would be three other such geographical divisions.

But wait, that’s only 28 teams. Showalter’s plan was to contract two teams. That would leave 27 opponents, or six games against each team for a total of 162.

Showalter recalled concluding the on-air segment by saying his plan made way too much sense to pass.

Of course, it is much more likely that the teams are added that subtracts as markets such as Nashville, Charlotte, Las Vegas and Montreal compete for potential expansion squads, bringing the total to 32 clubs (16 in each league) and eliminating the need for an interleague game almost every day .

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