MIAMI — Data has changed the way that baseball is perceived. Yet, no conclusive evidence exists to prove that home field provides anything more than a small advantage in the playoffs.
But for Mets manager Terry Collins, home-field advantage may be enough incentive to change the way he uses Noah Syndergaard in Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Phillies.
In Collins’ case, that means giving the ball to Syndergaard on Sunday to win homefield, even if the Mets have already clinched a wild-card spot. Of course, the consequence is that instead of Syndergaard starting the wild-card game, the honor would likely fall to Bartolo Colon.
The manager called it his “toughest decision” as the Mets cycle through their choices in a three-team wild-card race that could come down to the final day.
“For sure, when you play in front of our fans, it’s an advantage,” Collins said. “And they’re exciting. They’re loud. They get after it in the stands. It really would be great to play at home.”
Historically, homefield advantage in baseball has meant relatively little when compared to football and basketball. And according to sources, the preference remains to save Syndergaard for a wild-card game start, even if that means reducing the Mets’ chances for homefield advantage.
Collins, however, has already discussed adjusting Colon’s schedule so that he would pitch in the wild-card game on Wednesday should homefield advantage be on the line on Sunday.
Colon is scheduled to pitch on Saturday. But if he’s moved up to Friday night — meaning that the 43-year-old would go on short rest — his next regular turn would fall on Wednesday.
“Bart didn’t throw very many pitches on Monday,” Collins said of Colon, who was pulled after just 47 pitches on Monday, when he was battered for seven runs in 21⁄3 innings.
Colon has been playing through a foot injury and a sore thigh, though Collins said that neither issue has impacted his pitching.
Said Collins: “If there’s somebody that can do it, it’d be him, that’s what I think.”
If Syndergaard’s start on Sunday is deemed noncritical, he would throw about 25-pitches as a tuneup for his first postseason start.