NEW YORK -- Manager Terry Collins has crafted his plan for the Mets' starting rotation this week, although the order is contingent on Johan Santana's and R.A. Dickey's bullpen sessions on Monday.
If all goes according to plan, Dillon Gee will pitch the series finale against the Cardinals on Monday, Chris Young will return from the disabled list to open the series with the Nationals on Tuesday, Dickey will move up a spot in the rotation to pitch Wednesday and Santana will close the series with Washington on Thursday.
Collins called Wednesday a question mark, but he hopes Dickey will feel well enough to pitch on four days' rest against Washington, which entering Sunday night was a half-game ahead of the Mets in the National League East. If Dickey can't pitch on Wednesday, rookie Jeremy Hefner will get the start.
"I'm going to wait to see [Dickey's] bullpen tomorrow," Collins said. "If he's a little rough, then we may back off that. Right now, he's for it. I talked to [pitching coach] Dan [Warthen] and [general manager] Sandy [Alderson] about it, and we have to go in there, and those are guys we've got to beat."
Collins wants to move Dickey ahead of Santana to ensure he'll pitch against Washington and to give his star left-hander an extra day of rest. Santana threw 134 pitches in his no-hitter against the Cardinals on Friday despite a rigid plan for a pitch count of around 100 pitches. The Mets continue to be careful with their ace as he returns from reconstructive shoulder surgery, but Collins said he felt he had to leave Santana in the game given the circumstances.
If Santana feels like he needs an extra day of rest after his bullpen session, Hefner will step in to pitch a game this week. Collins will have a much lower pitch count for Santana in his next start.
"I like that order, but a lot of it is going to depend on how Johan feels tomorrow," Collins said.
Miguel Batista will be activated off the disabled list on Tuesday and will be relegated to bullpen duties. He'll serve as a backup to Young.