Despite Zack Wheeler’s desire for the ball, the honor should go to Niese, last year’s starter and whom Collins called “the ace of the staff,’’ in wake of Matt Harvey’s injury. If not Niese, then it should be Dillon Gee, the Mets’ most consistent starter last year and author of 199 innings.
Barring injury, accepted baseball thinking is why Niese should start. Niese is the most experienced of the Mets’ starters – of those growing up in the organization – and having been signed to a long-term contract, the most is expected of him.
Niese’s 8-8 2013 record is mediocre, but attributable in large part because of a shoulder injury. Veterans usually get preference if for no other reason as a reward.
Bartolo Colon is obviously the staff’s most experienced starter, but has no cache within the organization to warrant the start.
As for Wheeler, he might represent the Mets’ future, but with 17 career starts and seven wins, he has a while to go.
You have to admire Wheeler’s desire to want to have that role. It shows where he wants to be in his career.
“Last year I was coming in trying to win a spot,’’ Wheeler said earlier this week. “This year I’m trying to get the Opening Day spot. … It’s nothing on those guys, on the other starters, because anybody in the starting rotation could be the Opening Day starter. But that’s just my mindset coming in – to push myself to try to get the Opening Day spot.’’
Niese probably thinks the same. At least, let’s hope he does.
ON DECK: Bartolo Colon greets media.