The Mets are expected to oh-so-briefly go with a four-man rotation to open the season, although that only buys three extra days before the fifth starter is used.
After an opening-series rotation in Miami of Mike Pelfrey, Jon Niese and R.A. Dickey, the Mets have an off-day and then play in Philadelphia. In that series, it's now expected to be Chris Young starting the opener, then back to Pelfrey and Niese. Fifth-starter Chris Capuano likely will wait until April 9 against Washington -- the season's eighth game -- before taking the mound as a starter.
The biggest reason: Dickey then gets the honor of starting the home opener, on April 8 against the Washington Nationals.
Assuming Tim Byrdak is the only left-hander in the bullpen, it also allows Capuano to be available at least the first two games of that series against the Phillies as a second southpaw relief option.
While it's not the prevailing reason, it also should get Pelfrey off a track of facing entirely No. 1 starters. After drawing Josh Johnson on Opening Day, Pelfrey might have faced Roy Halladay in Game 6. Now, he should get Joe Blanton in Game 5 instead.
The decision should not impact the number of relievers the Mets carry. In essence, Capuano would be an eighth reliever the first road trip.
In the past, the Mets have waited to add the fifth starter to the 25-man roster until his first turn in the rotation and carried another player instead until then. That's not possible this time since Capuano is on a major league deal and not a minor league deal.
Here's now how the rotation should look for the start of the season:
April 1: Pelfrey
April 2: Niese
April 3: Dickey
April 4: OFF
April 5: Young
April 6: Pelfrey
April 7: Niese
April 8: Dickey
April 9: Capuano
April 10: Young
April 11: Pelfrey
April 12: Niese
April 13: Dickey
April 14: Capuano