"There's just times during the season when you have to grin and bear it," Collins said. "And this is one of those times."
Whatever the immediate consequences, the Mets felt deGrom required extra rest after he allowed 13 runs and 25 hits in 9⅔ innings over his previous two starts.
Somehow in deGrom's absence, Rafael Montero managed to contribute five scoreless innings despite walking six batters. And despite getting blanked by Jose Fernandez for six innings, the Mets ultimately beat the Miami Marlins 2-1 in 10 innings in Monday's series opener at Citi Field.
The Mets (67-64) remained 2½ games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the second wild-card spot while pulling even with the Marlins.
"Now I'm not taking anything away from Rafael Montero," Collins said. "But you're facing one of the best pitchers in the game, who has really pitched well against us. We were short tonight a little bit. You're just saying, 'Jeez, if we can just hang in there.' And we hung in there."
Montero allowed only two hits in five innings, but he walked six batters. It was the most walks by a Mets pitcher since Zack Wheeler also had six on May 23, 2014 against the Yankees. It was the most in a scoreless effort by a Mets starter since now-closer Jeurys Familia issued six walks in four scoreless innings against the Marlins during the final series of the 2012 season.
Montero's 100th and final pitch coaxed a double-play groundout from Marcell Ozuna with two runners on base.
"I walked six batters, but thank god I was able to get out of the jams," Montero said through an interpreter.
How difficult was it to skip deGrom given the Mets are trying to claw back into the postseason conversation and the Marlins entered the series ahead of them in the standings?
"When we talked about giving him a rest, one of the things that was mentioned is it couldn't have come at a worse time," Collins acknowledged. "The answer is: 'Hey, look, you've got to do it when you've got to do it.' There's no real good time. So as we look down the road, the one thing we thought is that, 'Hey, look, if we do it, are we going to get the benefit of it afterward?' And the answer to that, I think, is going to be, 'Yes, we are going to see the benefits.'"