Mets organizational decision makers are engaged in a debate over Matt Harvey’s present versus his future.
It is a quandary made more complex as the Mets have spoken publicly about wanting to limit Harvey’s innings while having their ace finish his first full season in the majors.
“That’s what we’ve been trying to battle with the last two months,” Collins said. “You have a guy who is one of the best competitors I’ve ever been around, who thoroughly wants to pitch nine innings every night he is out there. And yet you have to take into consideration what’s in the best interest of the club, the team at the time and the organization down the road.”
Following Saturday’s 3-0 loss to the Tigers, in which he went 6 2/3 innings, Harvey has thrown 178 1/3 innings in 26 starts this season. It is believed the Mets want Harvey to finish in the range of 210 to 220 innings. He should have six starts remaining this season, beginning with Thursday’s series finale against the Phillies.
Collins reiterated that the organization retains the option of having Harvey skip starts.
“A lot of us who sit in this chair, this is the first time we’ve had to manage a situation where you’ve got to protect people at the major-league level,” Collins said. “You’re trying to win games out here. We’re trying to put people in those seats out there, and having Matt Harvey out there every five days helps us. We still know down the road we have to keep this guy healthy. So you back off the bullpens, [and] you back off the running program a little bit so he’s not so fatigued. You monitor, obviously, his workload during the games. If you can give him an extra day here or there, you give him an extra day. We’ve talked about skipping him in the past, backing him up sometimes. All that stuff has to be considered. But there’s no one answer.
“What you want to do is, again, just say when a game starts and you see how he is in the first inning and you’re going to say, ‘Hey, I hope he gives us six [innings] today [because] he’s not going to be out there in the eighth. You have to back him down because you know the wear and tear of throwing as hard as he throws, that’s a lot of work. It’s a lot of work and you just have to back him down and say, ‘We’re going to cut your innings back today.’”
On the road ... again
Let’s just say that the Mets are not exactly enamored with MLB’s scheduling department.
The Mets will play a series in Washington next weekend, which includes Sunday night’s nationally televised game on ESPN. Following the game, the team will fly to Atlanta to begin a three-game series that starts Monday afternoon.
“Next week we have an eight o’clock game, get into Atlanta at four in the morning and play at 1 [p.m.] the next day,” Collins said. “That’s pretty much unfair at this level. But that’s what it is, so you have to deal with it.”
Follow Mets beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.