The Mets Face A No-Win Situation Resting Matt Harvey Down the Stretch

By Mike Cardillo

Good luck to Terry Collins and the rest of the New York Mets braintrust … you’re going to need it. The Mets face a true, if cliche, damed if you do, damned if you don’t scenario with their young starting pitchers. Before Wednesday night’s game in Baltimore, the New York Post reported that the Mets are thinking about skipping Matt Harvey’s scheduled start Sunday in Colorado, with recently recalled Logan Verrett likely to take his turn in the rotation.

Harvey missed all of 2014 with Tommy John surgery and the team wants to hold him to about 190 innings this season. He’s at 154 now. The team faces a similar decision with rookie Noah Syndergaard. Newsday wrote earlier in the week that Jacob deGrom isn’t under an innings limit.

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Complicating matters is something few envisioned before the season began: the Mets are in first place, 3.5 games ahead of the Nationals.

All season the Mets have said they’ll be judicious with their young pitchers, trying to avoid another Zack Wheeler situation. Wheeler threw 100 innings as a rookie in 2013 and that jumped to 185 in 2014. He needed Tommy John surgery in the spring, costing him all of 2015.

The Mets toyed with the idea of a six-man rotation and said they’d limit innings in September … but what do you do in the height of a pennant race? Remember the Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. There doesn’t seem to be a ready-made, right, second guess-free decision. Most reports this week float the idea the team could wait until Steven Matz comes off the disabled list and he could slot into the rotation to spell Harvey or Syndergaard, but that hardly seems foolproof since Matz is coming off a lat injury.

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Collins’ thought of skipping Harvey in August might turn out to be the best choice. Why wait until September when the pressure of the pennant race is amplified? It probably makes the most sense to be resting the guys now as opposed to later, or at least while the team still owns a cushion in first place.

Balancing winning in the immediate future vs. something that could happen years from now with a human being’s arm seems like a decision better served for an actuary rather than a baseball manager. The Mets are in the position they’re in right now because of their young pitching … but they also want to have those guys healthy and doing this again for the next couple years.

If there’s a small silver lining here, it’s that the Mets aren’t going to take the route the Nationals did with Stephen Strasburg, shutting him down in 2012 and keeping him out of the playoffs. The Mets say, now, they’ll have all their pitchers ready to go in October.

However this shakes out, if and when the Mets rest Harvey and Syndergaard they’ll be questioned and second-guessed. If either player develops an injury down the road, the Mets will be roasted just the same.

This sounds like a terrible resolution but perhaps all the Mets can do is hope whichever course of action they take works out incident free and they win on the days Harvey or Syndergaard sit. One of these days the Mets are bound to catch a break, right?

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