New York Mets starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard (34) delivers against the Washington Nationals in the first inning of the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)
Kathy Kmonicek
October 04, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) The Mets have set their pitching rotation for the first three games of their best-of-five NL playoff series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Jacob deGrom will start the opener Friday in Los Angeles, as expected. Rookie right-hander Noah Syndergaard goes in Game 2, followed by Matt Harvey in Game 3 back home at Citi Field.

''Because of the rest, because of all the stuff we've done to protect these guys, we're in a situation now where it's, turn `em loose,'' manager Terry Collins said Sunday.

After that, it's uncertain who would get the ball if Game 4 is necessary. New York would like to start unbeaten rookie Steven Matz - provided his balky back is healthy enough - and 42-year-old Bartolo Colon (14-13) remains a possibility. Collins, however, said the Mets might use a three-man rotation if they fall behind 2-1 in the Division Series.

That would mean bringing back deGrom in Game 4 on three days' rest for the first time in his two-year career. Syndergaard would be on full rest for a potential Game 5 at Dodger Stadium.

''I've never done it before but I'm willing. Anything to help us win,'' deGrom said after striking out seven in a scoreless tuneup that lasted four innings Sunday against Washington. ''I think I'll be ready on short rest. Normally when I throw my bullpen I feel pretty good and that's on three days, so I think I'd be ready on four days.''

Harvey (13-8, 2.71 ERA) will start only once in the series because he and the Mets are concerned about his workload in his first season back from Tommy John surgery. The right-hander has thrown 189 1-3 innings.

''Matt fit Game 3 perfectly,'' Collins said, calling it a pivotal game in the series.

There was some thought the team might prefer to pitch Syndergaard (9-7, 3.24 ERA) at Citi Field because his numbers are better at home. But the Mets squandered a chance to earn home-field advantage in the series by losing five straight games last week, and Syndergaard has pitched well on the road of late.

He had a strong start at Dodger Stadium on July 3, allowing one run and two hits over six innings.

Matz (4-0), who hasn't pitched since Sept. 24, is scheduled to throw a bullpen session Tuesday. If that goes well, the left-hander would be slated to throw about 90-95 pitches in the instructional league Thursday in Florida, according to Collins.

''It'll all be determined on how he comes out of tomorrow and Tuesday. So we're prepared for him to be ready or him not to be ready,'' Collins said.

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