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Solving the third-time-through-the-order pitching problem

How the Mets use their starting pitchers in the middle innings next year will change dramatically. Kathy Willens/AP Photo

New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson insists numbers don't lie, especially when it comes to declining production of starting pitchers when they reach the third time through the batting order.

"I think this has always existed," Alderson told reporters at the recent GM meetings in Orlando. "It's just that we have the data now that is irrefutable."

Finding someone to act on that data looks like a factor in the Mets hiring Mickey Callaway, previously the Indians' pitching coach, as their new manager. Callaway is plotting a different course for a staff that plummeted to 28th with a 5.01 team ERA after finishing third with a 3.58 ERA mark a year earlier.

That could include a quick hook for any starting pitchers outside of staff aces Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom.

"We don't let them struggle the third time through if we don't have to," Callaway told Marc Carig of Newsday.

Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland insist nothing is absolute, especially if a pitcher gets through the order the first two times on a limited pitch count. But this could mean a reduced workload for the likes are the likes of Seth Lugo and Zack Wheeler, assuming they are on the staff in 2018.