Mets Manager Mickey Callaway trusts his prized starting rotation of Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard, Jason Vargas, and Zack Wheeler, perhaps more than any other manager in the league.
That has allowed Callaway to let them work deep into games and, with that, a trend is becoming apparent in an era in which there are “openers” and pitchers are being pulled quicker than ever.
The Mets are turning modern theories of the game upside down, and all you have to do is look at one number to see how, and the results have been there.
Starting a week ago Wednesday, when Jason Vargas threw a complete game shutout against San Francisco, he threw 117 pitches to do it.
This was the start of a week in which Callaway has let his starters throw 105-or-more pitches five times.
Jacob deGrom is responsible for two of those instances, as he threw 112 pitches against Colorado last Friday, and then 116 on Thursday night against St. Louis.
When Callaway was asked about the pitch counts for his starters on Thursday night, he made one thing clear, “115’s kind of always their pitch count, so a couple of them kind of throw one or two pitches over that, I think we went 120 the other night with Vargas.
“These guys are pitching well, they’re going to stay out there and get outs. We want them to get to their pitch count.
“We’ve probably pushed our starters more than any other team in baseball because that’s our strength, so we’re always going to continue to give them a chance to do what they do.”
On Thursday night deGrom threw seven innings, and allowed two runs on 6 hits and no walks, with 8 strikeouts. His 116th and final pitch was a fastball away to strike out Harrison Bader to end the seventh.
deGrom said of his outing, “I felt good, I never really felt like I was getting tired, and I think that goes back to getting my mechanics in line and not fighting myself as much so I don’t feel as worn out out there on the mound.”
On letting deGrom throw 116 on Thursday, Callaway said, “Like I said, 115’s his pitch count, so throwing one extra pitch I don’t think is pushing him too much. If you started pushing them to 120, 122, then I think you need to, maybe, next time through, think about pushing his pitch count down. You check on these guys in-between (starts), make sure they have good work and if they can go 115, they can continue to do that for a long period of time. You know, if you go 115, 115, 115, and they’re still pitching on regular rest and he’s kind of looking like he’s a little fatigued, maybe you back it off to 105.
“I think these guys are bulked up for 115, no problem.”
To hear a manager talk about high pitch counts and letting pitchers go deep into games is such a refreshing turn of events in a game in which everything is becoming so micromanaged.
On a larger point, it shows Callaway has faith in his pitchers to work deep into games, that it is their game, compared to managers that can’t wait to start the relay from their bullpen.