MIAMI -- When Major League rosters expand to 40 players at the start of September, it does more than just help teams bring in added depth, according to Mets manager Terry Collins.
It changes the dynamic of the final month of the season, as well.
"It does change the game," Collins said. "It changes the way it's played, not only teams like us, but teams that are in contention."
The Mets skipper admitted he liked that the roster expansion gives teams chances to reward some Minor Leaguers for great seasons, but the move from 25 players to up to 40 changes strategy, especially because some teams call up more Minor Leaguers than others.
Collins also recalls in the early 90s when he was coaching in Pittsburgh and the Pirates were in the hunt for the pennant, and they traveled to St. Louis for a series in September.
"They didn't have a left-handed reliever all summer and then they had three of them in September," Collins said of the Cardinals. "It's a whole different game. When you've been fighting four or five months, that sixth month sometimes can be real different."
While Collins would like to see changes to the rules that limit the September callups, he isn't sure what alternative option he would offer, whether it would be to limit the roster to 30 players instead of 40, or to do like they do in Japan, where they have 28 players on the roster and three active scratches each night -- usually starting pitchers.
"I'd like to see some changes," Collins said. "I don't know how to do it ... but still it's just a different game in September. I thought [former Cardinals manager] Tony [La Russa] last year in the month of September used his callups to absolute perfection. He used them absolutely perfectly, and it's tough to defend them when you don't have [as many]. Some teams bring a lot, some teams don't bring as many in."
Callups Nickeas, Lutz give Mets some depth
MIAMI -- As expected, the Mets added two players before the second game of their three-game series with the Marlins on Saturday.
New York recalled catcher Mike Nickeas and corner infielder Zach Lutz from Triple-A Buffalo to help bolster the team's depth for the final month of the season.
"I haven't given a lot of thought to how they're going to be used, but I think they can help pinch-run or if there's a pinch-hitting role that comes up," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "We've got some guys that certainly will give us some depth."
Nickeas was on the Mets' Opening Day roster and appeared in 42 games before the team optioned him to Buffalo on July 16. He hit just .168 (17-for-101) with three doubles, one home run and 13 RBIs during his stint with the Mets.
Since he was sent down to the Bisons, Nickeas hit .364 (24-for-66) with a .405 on-base percentage and a .905 OPS. He hit six doubles, a home run and six RBIs in 22 games.
Lutz made his Major League debut with the Mets earlier this season, but spent most of the year with Buffalo. In four games with New York, he went 1-for-4 from April 24-29. In 72 games with Buffalo, he hit matched Nickeas' OPS (.905) and hit .299 (73-for-244) with a .410 on-base percentage, 16 doubles, 10 home runs and 35 RBIs.
"I know all about him," Collins said of Lutz. "He's got power, he's a good hitter, he plays first and third. He can be dangerous."
Dickey adds to NL Cy Young Award resume
MIAMI -- After R.A. Dickey threw a shutout Friday night, much of the postgame chatter was about the 37-year-old knuckleballer's National League Cy Young Award candidacy.
Mets manager Terry Collins and Marlins skipper Ozzie Guillen both lauded Dickey after the game -- his third shutout and fifth complete game of the year -- and said the righty was deserving of the award. Friday's performance also gave Dickey his 17th win of the year, tying him with Reds righty Johnny Cueto and Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez (who threw his own shutout Friday) for most in the Majors.
All three have strong resumes for the NL Cy Young Award -- Cueto leads the trio in ERA (2.48), Dickey leads them in strikeouts (190) and WHIP (1.01), while Gonzalez leads all three in opponents' batting average (.212). The only discernible difference among the trio is that Cueto and Gonzalez are putting up their numbers on teams that are in the pennant chase. Both the Reds and Nats lead their respective divisions.
While some might argue that as a knock on Dickey's body of work, Collins thinks the Mets' struggles make Dickey's numbers that much more impressive.
"No question," Collins said. "We've had a tough time scoring runs, especially in the second half of the season, and he continues to win. We are seven games below .500 and he's what,  games over .500? That says a lot."
Davis impresses Mets with perseverance
MIAMI -- If there's one thing that impresses Mets manager Terry Collins more than Ike Davis' eye-popping numbers after a slow start to the year, it's the resilience Davis displayed during his offensive turnaround.
"He's certainly responded to the patience the organization had with him after the start," Collins said. "We all knew he had power and we all know he's a good defender. He stayed with his plan. He stayed with the work ethic he has to get his offense going."
According to Collins, the key now for the Mets is to get Davis, who has a career-high 25 home runs and 74 RBIs, off to a faster start next season. Davis hit just .170 with a .220 on-base percentage through the first two months of the season, but has hit .257 with 20 home runs and 53 RBIs since the start of June.
The Mets would also like to see Davis improve against left-handed pitchers, especially since many teams add another lefty in the bullpen when rosters expand each season. Entering Saturday, he is hitting just .179 with seven homers and 18 RBIs against southpaws.
"We've got to get Ike to be a little more productive against left-handed pitching," Collins said. "If that means straightening up [his stance] helps him see the ball better against left-handed hitters, we've got to find that comfort zone where he feels good. ... If he starts doing damage against left-handed pitching, it will change the whole dynamics of your lineup."
Tom Green is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.