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Mets being cautious with young rotation in spring

NY hoping to keep Harvey, deGrom, Syndergaard, Matz healthy through season
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Over the past half-decade, the Mets have assembled perhaps the best starting rotation in baseball. Their current dilemma is how to keep the entire group healthy.

It is perhaps the most important task the defending National League champion Mets face, both this spring and into summer. But they have an idea of how they'll accomplish it.

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Over the past half-decade, the Mets have assembled perhaps the best starting rotation in baseball. Their current dilemma is how to keep the entire group healthy.

It is perhaps the most important task the defending National League champion Mets face, both this spring and into summer. But they have an idea of how they'll accomplish it.

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"I think we've tried to make it clear that going into this season, we're going to be mindful of their health -- not necessarily looking at innings limits, but at the same time, making sure that they are as strong and healthy and capable as possible throughout the season," general manager Sandy Alderson said. "We may do some things this year that we did last year just to ensure that. But I think with any pitching … this day and age, as hard as many guys throw, and as hard as our guys throw, we've got to be very careful about them."

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In the short-term, that means holding back Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard and Steven Matz from their first rotation turn in Grapefruit League games. Instead of those stars, fans will see Sean Gilmartin, Rafael Montero, Robert Gsellman and others. Even once the Mets' top starters do begin pitching, the team will be mindful of every last ache and pain they might be feeling.

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"I don't think it will be major changes, but little tweaks that will hopefully keep the burden to a minimum early in Spring Training," Alderson said. "We'll see how that translates early this season as well."

The idea is that once Opening Day hits, Mets starters won't face the types of innings limits that shackled them during the regular season last year. Avoiding injury is an obvious goal, but the Mets also hope their pitchers show no signs of fatigue coming off career-high innings totals. Harvey, for example, threw 37 2/3 more innings than ever before in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. DeGrom also eclipsed his previous high by 37 2/3 innings, while Syndergaard racked up 65 2/3 more than in 2014. Only Matz did not blow past his previous totals, but that was largely because of a series of injuries -- all the more reason to watch him in 2016.

"We've got to get them ready, but it will be a slower process," manager Terry Collins said. "And we will be careful of them early in the season, because we expect them to be pitching in October again."

Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

New York Mets