Imagine a Mets team without Jacob deGrom, Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. Now pretend that it's playoff time.
Terry Collins can't guarantee that situation won't happen -- or at least some variation of it.
The young pitchers account for nearly half of the team's wins. But what if the three exceed their innings limits?
Asked if the pitchers will be available come playoff time, Collins said, "It's too early to say."
"One of the things I got crucified for was the six-man rotation, which is going to keep these guys rested enough," the manager said. "Even though they got to the end of their pitching limits, the rest was going to allow them to pitch in the playoffs. Now, on this five-day [plan], they're going to get to those limits, and if they're tired, they aren't pitching anymore. We'll worry about that down the road."
Collins said Syndergaard isn't restricted differently from Harvey and deGrom, who both have had Tommy John surgery.
He added that Steven Matz's projected return in early September could fix things by adding a reliable sixth man. Until then, Collins said a spot starter will be called upon.
The concern about innings limits mirrors that of the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg in 2012, when he was shut down with 24 games left. His absence in the playoffs didn't help.
Collins didn't need the history lesson. "There's not a day that goes by where we don't think of the health of that pitching staff," he said. "Not one day."
Conforto makes U-turn
Michael Conforto never even left the state. The outfielder was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Saturday to make roster space for Yoenis Cespedes, but he was recalled Sunday after Kirk Nieuwenhuis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a pinched nerve in his upper back.
Conforto is batting .211 with three RBIs and four hits in six big-league games.
Collins, who said he's impressed with Conforto's ability to hit to all fields, sat him Sunday night, saying, "He was in the hotel three hours ago wondering if he was getting on a plane."