While some are giving the Mets kudos for the inventiveness of going to a six-man rotation, they are doing so to protect Matt Harvey and his surgically-repaired money elbow. More to the point, they are doing it because they didn’t properly calculate a program to monitor his innings in the first pace.
The Mets entered the season with a “play it by ear” approach with Harvey, but it didn’t take long to second-guess several decisions by manager Terry Collins, and yes, to take some jabs at the young star.
First, they let him pitch with a strep throat, when Collins should have told Harvey to stay home. However, Harvey wanted to pitch that day – of course, he did – and left the impression he wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer, which is to paraphrase Collins.
Starting him was bad enough. Letting him pitch into the seventh that day compounded matters.
When they had a chance to rest Harvey, the Mets spit the bit. Soon it would bite them in the butt.
Entering the season, part of the Mets’ “play it by ear,” plan was to take advantage of one-sided games to give Harvey a few innings off. But, when they could have pulled him after seven in a blowout win over the Yankees, he pushed the envelope because he wanted the complete game.
Collins, of course, caved.
What followed were back-to-back no-decision games for Harvey in which the bullpen coughed up 1-0 leads. Obviously, with benefit if hindsight the Mets would rather have had Harvey pitch longer in those games than stay in for a few more innings in a meaningless game against the Yankees.
Then Harvey was hammered in the worst start of his career and Collins thought he had a “tired arm.”
The goal, said pitching coach Dan Warthen, is to have the pitchers make 30 starts over the course of the year instead of 34.
The fatal flaw to this plan is pitchers are creatures of habit and it is difficult to jump into this format in midstream, a move that has all the pitchers annoyed to some degree.
At the start of spring training, I wrote the Mets should map out Harvey’s starts from April through September with a definitive idea of how many innings he would throw in each start. Well, the Mets didn’t want to do that because they didn’t want to come across as having a leash on Harvey, an idea he despised.
However, in the end it looks as if they will have to do what they should have done in the first place.
There’s a saying the smart carpenter measures twice but saws once. However, the Mets come across as Gilligan trying to build a grass hut.