Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

Collins to stay flexible with pen

NEW YORK — With the Mets' World Series rotation settled Saturday, and with closer Jeurys Familia as reliable as ever, the only question mark left on the pitching staff is the bridge to Familia.

In the first two rounds, manager Terry Collins used starter Noah Syndergaard in relief in one game, had Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and even Matt Harvey on call in a few others and used regular-season starters Bartolo Colon and Jon Niese effectively out of the pen.

For the early games of the World Series, Collins will likely stay away from using his current starters as relievers. That means the big four in front of Familia will be Colon, Niese, Mitchell High product Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed.

"That bridge to Familia can go in different directions," Collins said. "But the trails will all be the same names."

Niese and Clippard will be particularly important to combat the Royals' left-handed hitters such as Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon and Mike Moustakas.

"We think Tyler Clippard — and he's shown it — is very, very effective against left-handed hitting," Collins said. "And they've got a lot of it. Addison, on the other hand, is really effective against right-handed hitting. We'll see what the situations are in those innings coming up."

Clippard held left-handed batters to a .137 average in the regular season. Righties were actually more effective against Reed (.270 to .253), whom the Mets acquired from the Diamondbacks on Aug. 30.

Clippard, who was the Mets' primary eighth-inning guy after he came over from the A's on July 27, is no longer that. He allowed one run in 12/3 innings in the Division Series and two runs in three innings in the Championship Series.

In Game 4 of the NLCS, Reed pitched a scoreless seventh, but Clippard allowed two runs in the eighth in the Mets' 8-3 victory. Reed pitched two scoreless innings in the NLCS after giving up one run in 11/3 innings in two appearances in the first round.

Along with Colon, Niese has been Collins' not-so secret weapon in the playoffs. In Game 2 of the NLCS, Niese struck out Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs in a big sixth-inning spot. Niese will likely be tested again in the World Series.

AROUND THE MAJORS: Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak, 35, will be introduced as Phillies general manager today, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Rays vice president of baseball operations Chaim Bloom had been a finalist for the job. … The Nationals will decide between former managers Dusty Baker and Bud Black to succeed Matt Williams, cbssports.com reported.

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