Daisuke Matsuzaka delivers strong outing in quest for rotation spot

Daisuke Matsuzaka
Daisuke Matsuzaka is likely the favorite to win the No. 5 starter role.
Credit: Getty Images

Daisuke Matsuzaka continued to make his case for the No. 5 spot in the Mets’ rotation with one of his best starts of spring on Monday.

The 33-year-old former Red Sox star came into spring training with question marks after finishing the 2013 season with an uninspiring 4.42 ERA in seven starts for New York. But he’s been solid, if not spectacular, in five starts this spring.

He pitched six innings, allowed one run and struck out five in a 5-3 win against the Cardinals. Matsuzaka’s problem has always been walks and he did have three Monday after just one in his four previous games. He lowered his spring ERA to 3.86 with 17 strikeouts in 18 2/3 innings. He will likely get one more start before the season opens on March 31.

Jon Niese, Dillon Gee, Zack Wheeler and Bartolo Colon are locked into the top four spots in the rotation, meaning Matsuzaka, Jenrry Mejia and veteran John Lannan are likely competing for the final spot.

Lannan would be a surprise and may instead find a role as a long man in the bullpen. Mejia, 24, has pitched well this spring though the team wouldn’t mind getting him some extra seasoning in the minors. He is 0-1 with a 2.89 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings during three starts this spring training. He made his last pitch for the rotation in an outing Sunday when he allowed one run in five innings and struck out six.

The decision will be made on Tuesday.

Follow Metro New York Sports Editor Mark Osborne on Twitter @MetroNYSports.

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