Mets draft plan to limit Noah's innings

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- Terry Collins said Tuesday that when top prospect Noah Syndergaard arrives in the big leagues sometime this season, an innings cap cannot be an impediment to his usage.

"He ain't coming out after the fifth up here," Collins bluntly said.

So how can the Mets keep Syndergaard pitching into late September without reaching a cap, while also not pulling him prematurely from big-league starts during the second half?

Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

The Mets will need to be creative with Noah Syndergaard's 2014 innings to keep him pitching into late September.

ESPNNewYork.com asked Paul DePodesta if the following things would be considered:

• Five-inning, 60-pitch caps with Triple-A Las Vegas until a big-league promotion.

• A bullpen cameo on his rotation day at points, so that Syndergaard logs one inning on turn rather than five or six innings.

• A six-man rotation with Vegas, since there may be six or more deserving candidates with the 51s anyway (Syndergaard, Jenrry Mejia, Rafael Montero, Jacob deGrom, Logan Verrett and Cory Mazzoni, not to mention players who went directly to minor-league camp).

DePodesta's response?

In essence, all of the above.

"We're still designing the plan, but it may include a number of the elements you mention," DePodesta indicated. "... I don't think it's just about April. Rather, it will be a plan that attempts to lay out, in a general sense, his entire year. Therefore, it's not just a matter of being overly restrictive early and then removing all restrictions. "

As for Syndergaard's innings limit, when the Futures Game and Eastern League playoffs are included, Syndergaard logged 124 2/3 innings in 2013. The standard jump is about 30 innings, so 155 or so may be the 2014 cap, with adjustments made in part based on on how many pitches per innings Syndergaard requires.

As for a promotion date, a mid-June arrival likely would delay Syndergaard's arbitration eligibility by a year and achieve a Mets goal. But the promotion may not come that soon in Syndergaard's case. Remember, Zack Wheeler had six starts with Triple-A Buffalo in 2012, ahead of his 2013 Las Vegas work and a June 18 big-league debut. Syndergaard finished last season in Double-A.