PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For weeks, the Mets' top starting pitchers have limited their throwing, reduced the number of times they play catch and steered clear of Grapefruit League games, all in an effort to keep their arms as fresh as possible heading into the season.But the reins are
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- For weeks, the Mets' top starting pitchers have limited their throwing, reduced the number of times they play catch and steered clear of Grapefruit League games, all in an effort to keep their arms as fresh as possible heading into the season.
But the reins are about to loosen. The Mets' rollout of top starting pitchers will begin Friday, when Noah Syndergaard takes the mound for a 1:10 p.m. ET game against the Astros. After Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom will start Saturday, Matt Harvey on Sunday and Steven Matz on Monday. Zack Wheeler is also tentatively scheduled to pitch March 10 against the Braves.
"I'm anxious to see them," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "I'm anxious to get them started. But at the same time, there's a reason why we took our time with them. So we'll continue to monitor their workloads, and make sure they stay on track."
The Mets' Opening Day starter, Syndergaard is the only one of that group not attempting to come back from surgery. After going 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and 218 strikeouts in 183 2/3 innings last season, Syndergaard packed on approximately 15 pounds this winter in an attempt to throw harder.
He was, of course, already the hardest-throwing starting pitcher in baseball last year in terms of average fastball velocity.
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"I always want to throw harder and continue to make the game easier," Syndergaard said of the added strength. "I feel like last year, from my rookie season, my velocity jumped up … so I'm always going to try to raise that bar."
One pitcher not guaranteed a spot in the Mets' Opening Day rotation is Robert Gsellman, who debuted Thursday against the Marlins. Gsellman threw two scoreless innings and consistently pounded Miami hitters inside with his sinker.
Competing with Wheeler and Seth Lugo for the fifth spot in New York's rotation, Gsellman boasts the strongest statistical case based on last season, when he went 4-2 with a 2.42 ERA as a rookie.
"I usually don't pay attention to results," Gsellman said. "I just go out there and play, and whatever happens, happens."
A minor scrape
The nail on Curtis Granderson's right thumb peeled back when he jammed his glove into the ground attempting to make a catch during Thursday's game, but a visit to the doctor revealed nothing broken or sprained. Granderson is day-to-day.
Rebounding from a relatively rocky first spring outing, Jeurys Familia struck out two in a scoreless inning Thursday. He has one outing remaining, Sunday against the Cardinals, before he joins Team Dominican Republic in Miami for the World Baseball Classic.
Though Familia has been a notoriously slow starter in Spring Training, often needing until late March to ramp his velocity up into the mid-90s, he has thrown much harder than usual early this spring. Familia credits that to playing for Gigantes del Cibao in the Dominican Winter League as a way to keep his body in shape for Classic play.
"I think that really helped me come in here prepared," Familia said through an interpreter. "I really only took like two weeks off [this winter] before I got back into training, and getting into the swing of things. So I felt coming in here, I was already at about 90 percent."
Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.