49° Good Morning
49° Good Morning

Terry Collins thinks Subway Series will benefit Mets' younger players

Jacob deGrom #48, Steven Matz #32 and Noah

Jacob deGrom #48, Steven Matz #32 and Noah Syndergaard #34 of the New York Mets prepare for a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citi Field on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Barring a horrific collapse, one that would dwarf the infamous meltdown of 2007, the Mets will reach the postseason for the first time in nine years.

If October baseball is indeed their destiny, it will come to pass with the help of rookies such as Steven Matz, Noah Syndergaard and Michael Conforto.

In that sense, manager Terry Collins sees the benefit of the uniquely timed Subway Series against the Yankees, with Citi Field expected to play host to a weekend of playoff-like crowds.

"I think it's going to be beneficial for some of our young players to understand the focus and the concentration you've got to have to play under those circumstances," Collins said. "If we do get in the postseason, they're going to face it again."

Plenty of other subplots will hover above the proceedings, which Collins called "a rather large . . . circus." The games carry postseason implications, with the Mets hoping to continue their romp to the NL East title while the Yankees continue their pursuit of the Blue Jays.

And as always, bragging rights for the city will be up for grabs, with Mets fans hoping that the series will showcase that they have finally taken back New York.

From a more practical sense, however, Collins is viewing the Subway Series as a dry run for the heightened scrutiny that comes with postseason baseball.

Matz, the Ward Melville product, draws the starting assignment in the series opener Friday night. He will be followed Saturday by Syndergaard.

"It's really cool," said Matz, whose second Citi Field start will be attended by his immediate family. "It's going to be really exciting. Both the teams are fighting for the division. Every game at this point is going to be a big win, so that adds to it as well. So I'm just going to go out there and try to get a win."

Though he is past a blister that developed on his pitching hand, Matz is coming off his least impressive start in his young big-league career. He allowed only one run in five innings against the Braves. But the stat line failed to reflect his uncharacteristic lack of command.

"I don't think he's going to be intimidated by anything," Collins said of Matz, who is making his fifth start in the majors. "He knows what to do. He's just got to go out and pitch. He feels very good. The finger's completely healed. So what he's got to do is just go out and pitch his game."

The outing will be Matz's first exposure to the Subway Series, along with the fellow rookie Conforto, whose second-half emergence has helped the Mets reverse their fortunes at the plate.

"I'm excited for my first experience with it," said Conforto, who drew a comparison to another weighty series earlier this month, a race-defining three-game sweep of the Nationals in Washington. "I think it can be easy to get caught up in the hype of the Subway Series and everything that's going on. But I think this team has done a great job obviously."

Matz, 24, grew up within a family of rabid Mets fans. Though he can't recall attending Subway Series games, he isn't shying away from the heightened intensity that comes with standing at the center of the rivalry.

"I enjoy it," Matz said. "That's kind of what you play for, for those big moments. I think it's going to be fun . . . Just the energy of the stadium. Fans and everything are into it. It gets your adrenaline going."

Mets captain David Wright, a veteran of Subway Series battles, knows there's little point in telling younger players to dial down that adrenaline. But the challenge will come in managing it.

"You can't say hey, don't try not to get too excited, because that's just not possible," Wright said. "I think it's how you maintain your composure. Don't go out there and try to throw 100 mph every pitch. I think it's easier once you get into the flow of the game."

New York Sports