Jacob deGrom intends to treat his next start no differently from any of his others -- even though the experience will be unlike anything he's ever had.
"That's why we play this game, to compete, and a game like that is going to be a big competition," said deGrom, who will start Game 1 of the National League Division Series in Los Angeles on Friday.
In his final tuneup, deGrom tossed four no-hit innings in a 1-0 win over the Nationals. He finished his first full major-league season with a 2.54 ERA and 205 strikeouts in 191 innings.
He will front a playoff rotation that features Noah Syndergaard in Game 2 and Matt Harvey in Game 3, when the series shifts to Citi Field.
The Mets' Game 4 starter remains up in the air, though Steven Matz could be slated for the assignment if he proves that he's past the back stiffness that scrubbed his last start. Bartolo Colon is another option, though Collins used him in relief Sunday, a role he also could fill in the playoffs.
Collins also left open the possibility that deGrom could pitch on short rest in Game 4 if the Mets face a 2-1 deficit in the best-of-five NLDS. "I've never done it before, but I'm willing to do anything to help us win," deGrom said. "I think I'll be ready."
Of course, the plan isn't set in stone. "If he has a real tough Game 1 and we're up 2-1, he ain't pitching Game 4," Collins said.
Meanwhile, the Mets aren't worried about Syndergaard's home/road splits, especially because of late he has pitched better away from Citi Field.
Harvey slots into Game 3, which will ensure that he pitches in a critical game while also being limited to one NLDS start, a concession to the Mets' attempts to manage his workload.
The Mets intend to have Matz throw long toss Monday and throw a bullpen session Tuesday, all in preparation for an instructional league outing in Port St. Lucie, Florida, on Thursday.
"It'll all be determined by how he comes out of it tomorrow and Tuesday," Collins said. "So we're prepared for him to be ready or him not to be ready."
Juan Uribe's chest injury might keep him off the NLDS roster, a blow to the Mets who have valued his righthanded bat and veteran presence. Said Collins: "Right now it's real iffy."
The Mets sent Anthony Recker, Bobby Parnell, Logan Verrett, Eric Young Jr. and Eric Campbell to Port St. Lucie to stay sharp. Jonathon Niese and Erik Goeddel are among those on the bubble with the Mets, who have until Friday morning to set their roster.