Operating under the assumption Matt Harvey will be ready for spring training and subsequently the start of the season, there will undoubtedly be an innings limitation.
In theory, the Mets want him ready for a postseason push. They haven’t announced what the cap would be, but let’s figure on 175-180 innings – which is at least three starts shy of the hoped for 200.
HARVEY: Innings will be an issue. (AP)
So, what are their options?
The first is to do nothing and let him pitch … pitch … and pitch. Undoubtedly, that’s Harvey’s choice, but it won’t happen. Why risk another injury?
Another is to pitch him without game or innings restrictions, then cut him in September if the Mets aren’t in contention. However, if they go that route and the Mets are in the race, they would be doing a disservice to their players and fans, and actually the integrity of the game because they wouldn’t be putting their best team on the field.
That’s not ideal, and neither is the pick-and-choose method, which would be to juggle him with off days and selected starts.
Also, not preferred is to pull him if the Mets are winning late in a game. Harvey will moan about this, and his noise would be amplified if the Mets’ bullpen blew the game.
One option because of the off days in April and the high probability of bad weather is to bag that month entirely or at least the first two weeks.
On the positive, it would keep him out of the cold weather. On the negative, he would still pile up innings in extended spring training games.
Finally, and I think it is the best – it’s something the Nationals didn’t do with Stephen Strasburg – is to have their figure in mind from the start and schedule accordingly.
That would mean making a schedule for the entire season and not deviate. Rainouts would only help the Mets because it would push him back.
In this format, the Mets could schedule skip days now for Harvey and not go on the fly. In addition, they could put him a rigid innings cap, but that would irritate him and lead to an occasional blown save.
However, if the Mets and Harvey knew from the outset his cap would be seven innings both parties could plan accordingly.
Harvey wouldn’t necessarily have to pace himself and Collins would know his bullpen options before the game started. They would accept the blown save as part of the deal.
This format would require discipline from Collins and acceptance from Harvey, which would be more likely because there wouldn’t be any surprises.
Like it or not, this is the hand the Mets have been dealt and must play.
In addition, they might consider plans for Jacob deGrom and Zack Wheeler.
All of this proves the cliché “you can never have too much pitching.’’
As frustrating as this might be, the Mets are set up for this complicated option because they have Rafael Montero, Carlos Torres and sometime in June, Noah Syndergaard. They also have depth with Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee.