NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins said he thinks he knows who his National League starting pitcher will be in next month's All-Star Game, even though the favorite for the job, Los Angeles Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw, is headed to the disabled list.
"There is going to be a lot of consideration," Collins said before the Mets faced the Cubs on Thursday. "There are five legitimate names that deserve to start the game. Clayton [was] one of those names. I can tell you Jake was right near the top of the list. I kind of like my guy [Noah Syndergaard] a little bit too. [Johnny] Cueto has great numbers. [Madison] Bumgarner probably deserves a shot."
The race for starter is wide open now that Kershaw is out of the mix because of a herniated disk. Arrieta boasts a league-leading 12 wins and 2.10 ERA. Bumgarner is the only starter other than Kershaw with a sub-2.00 ERA, and Cueto is second in the league with 11 wins.
"It would be great," Arrieta said after hearing what Collins said. "It would be an honor, obviously. Most important to me is my start Saturday and four days after that."
Collins will get an in-person look at Arrieta when the ace takes the mound against the Mets on Saturday. Collins then can watch his own candidate Sunday, when Syndergaard pitches. Sunday's starter for the Cubs, Jon Lester, should be in the mix as well, though Collins didn't mention him.
Arrieta was asked whether getting the start would have special meaning, considering his struggles to become established in the big leagues.
"I'm kind of over that," Arrieta said. "I've kind of addressed where I've come to this point. It's a long way from where I used to be. I do understand that, but as the same time, I've put most of that behind me."
Arrieta has struggled a little recently and has seen his ERA rise above 2.00 for the first time this season. Citi Field was the scene of his worst start in the second half last season, when arm fatigue got the best of him, and the Mets took advantage.
"Yeah, it stunk," Arrieta said. "Ran into a really hot team. New year, different team, different circumstances. We'll probably relive some memories that weren't very exciting, but nonetheless, that was the NLCS, and someone has to come out ahead."
The Mets beat Arrieta and swept the Cubs in the NL Championship Series, so perhaps an All-Star start from their manager would help heal the wound. Collins knows whom he wants to pitch that night; he just isn't telling.
"I kind of feel like I know who's going to start the game," he said.