Mets plan to use sixth starter, even early in the season

NEW YORK -- The New York Mets should have an extra starting pitcher when Zack Wheeler returns from Tommy John surgery during the summer. But even before Wheeler is back, the organization plans to strategically use a sixth starter to keep their staff fresh, general manager Sandy Alderson said Wednesday.

Alderson said spot starters will be used even during the first half of the season. Sean Gilmartin or Logan Verrett, depending on who makes the Opening Day roster, could be used in that capacity during the season's early months.

That does not mean Mets pitchers have innings restrictions comparable to previous years. In fact, even 2016 rookie Steven Matz logged 155⅔ innings last season, with the minors and postseason included. So he should be able to reach close to 200 innings.