Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) in the dugout during...

Mets starting pitcher Max Scherzer (21) in the dugout during the eighth against the Washington Nationals inning at Citi Field, Wednesday, Oct 5, 2022. Credit: Noah K. Murray

The question first arose in the winter as a fascinating hypothetical, became a half-joking inquiry when these Mets met at spring training and got real over the summer as the team asserted its dominance: Which of their aces would start Game 1 of the postseason?

The answer finally came Wednesday: Max Scherzer.

Scherzer, not Jacob deGrom, will pitch the Mets’ first postseason game, Friday against the Padres in the best-of-three NL Wild Card Series, manager Buck Showalter said. Yu Darvish will go for San Diego.

Showalter declined to elaborate on the Mets’ thinking, saying he’d explain more on Thursday. But choosing Scherzer was a deliberate, specific decision, because had the Mets kept their starting pitchers in line it would have been deGrom.

The Mets have not revealed their starters for the rest of the series. But it may be contingent on how Scherzer fares. If the Mets win Game 1, they can roll with Chris Bassitt for Game 2 and hold back deGrom — either for Game 3, if necessary, or to open the NLDS against the Dodgers.

Scherzer was the Mets’ best pitcher in the regular season. He had a 2.29 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in 23 starts. DeGrom, who missed four months because of a stress reaction in his right shoulder blade, finished with a 3.08 ERA and 0.75 WHIP in 11 starts. Those numbers looked better before he struggled in his last several outings.