Terry Collins was quite the comedian during the pregame interview session before last night's Game 4 of the NLDS.
The Mets manager got hearty laughter from reporters no fewer than six times with a series of quips. That's a stand-up performance that would have made noted Mets fan Jerry Seinfeld proud.
But it was a contemplated move in the middle innings last night that would have proved Collins is a magician, too.
With the Mets trailing the Dodgers and Clayton Kershaw by the eventual final score of 3-1, Collins had Bartolo Colon warming in the bullpen during the bottom of the fifth. That was a nothing-up-his-sleeve move as rookie starter Steven Matz was due to bat fourth in the inning.
Suddenly, Game 1 and prospective Game 5 starter Jacob deGrom began warming up alongside Colon. Was deGrom, who struck out 13 in seven shutout innings in the Mets' series-opening 3-1 win, just doing his normal bullpen session a little late?
Or was Collins planning to bring him into the game if the Mets tied the score or went ahead?
Actually, Collins revealed after the game, there was a chance deGrom was going to enter the game in relief. But not when he was warming up in the fifth. He was told to hold back his bullpen session in case the Mets needed him earlier than the fifth. So once he started warming up, there was no longer a chance he was going to enter the game.
"We had decided that we were going to save him until later just in case we thought maybe we might need him," Collins said. "We told him this afternoon not to throw his pen until later in the game. Had we got the lead, had we felt we needed a bridge, we were going to use him. Around the [fifth] inning, we were still down two, I said, 'Get him throwing so he can get that over.' "
DeGrom, whom the Mets considered starting Tuesday night's game on three days' rest, continued to warm as Juan Lagares singled off Kershaw with two outs to bring up pinch hitter Michael Cuddyer, the potential tying run.
Cuddyer struck out. When the bullpen door swung open, it was Colon, and not deGrom, who emerged to pitch the sixth.
After the game, deGrom contradicted Collins by saying he wasn't going to come in at any point. But he also refused to take any other questions to clarify the situation.
Toronto manager John Gibbons used Game 1 starter David Price in relief for three innings in the Blue Jays' 8-4 victory over the Rangers on Monday. The difference is the Blue Jays were down 2-1 and facing elimination. The Mets were up 2-1 and still had the cushion of Game 5 in Los Angeles Thursday night.
But Collins obviously thought about using deGrom to put the hammer down on the Dodgers knowing he still had Thor -- Noah Syndergaard -- lined up to start Game 5 on normal rest.
Now, Syndergaard should be available for bullpen duty Thursday.