Terry Collins famously allowed himself to be talked into letting his starting pitcher work into the ninth inning of Game 5 of the 2015 World Series.
Then the Mets manager watched the 2016 World Series unfold without a single starter making it into the seventh.
Might this become a permanent strategic shift in baseball?
On one hand, Collins said Thursday, he does think we will see more bullpen-dominated postseasons. On the other, he still seemed inclined to give his starters more leeway than the Cubs’ and Indians’ got.
“After watching the World Series and you’re picturing your guys out on that mound, they’re pretty good; I think they’re going to get a little farther than 4 2⁄3 [innings],” Collins said before being honored in Manhattan at The ALS Association Greater New York Chapter’s annual Lou Gehrig Sports Award Benefit.
That was a reference to the decision by his old friend, Cubs manager Joe Maddon, to remove starter Kyle Hendricks with two outs in the fifth inning of Game 7.
Collins added, “I just look at those pitchers [in his regular rotation] and think to myself, man, they’re going to have to hit us pretty hard to take my guys out. My guys are pretty good.”
But he acknowledged that keeping them healthy is paramount. Matt Harvey, who also was at the dinner, underwent shoulder surgery in July.
“He looks great; he’s in tremendous shape,” Collins said. “That’s what you expect from him and I know when he shows up in January, he’s going to be raring to go.”
Collins said that since the season ended, he has been talking to people in search of answers to keep his pitchers healthy, and he plans to give his position players more rest to avoid injuries.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t repeat and get back right where we belong,” he said, “but you get those pitchers on that mound, they’re the ones that are going to carry that load.”
One key pitcher, reliever Jeurys Familia, was arrested Monday on a domestic violence charge. Collins declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation, and said he has not spoken to Familia.
On other matters, he said he hopes to get free-agent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes back and was pleased to learn that the Mets had exercised the options on Jay Bruce and Jose Reyes.
Collins said Bruce’s slow start with the Mets was not indicative of his ability. “He showed at the end of the season what he can do and what he brings to the table, and I’m glad he’s back,” Collins said.
Last month Collins, 67, told Newsday he will decide after 2017 whether to continue managing. Thursday, he downplayed that notion. “When you speak your mind in New York City, it comes back to bite you in the behind,” he said. “If we win and things are going good and I feel as good as I do today, I’ll manage as long as I can.”
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman was honored at the dinner with a Lifetime Achievement Award. He reiterated the offseason approach he discussed last month, saying the focus will be “pitching, pitching, pitching.”
“We have some intentions to try to do some things,” he said, “but again, we want to do things that are smart and strategic rather than harmful.”