(Neil Miller/Sportsday Wire)
Terry Collins knew the question would be asked about Matt Harvey and the New York Mets manager responded Friday night after a 10-inning 6-4 loss to the Boston Red Sox at Citi Field. Harvey was removed after six scoreless innings and a pitch count of 103.
But all along it has been about preserving the arm of Harvey who has now logged 160 innings. The intention is to keep Harvey sharp for a potential Mets’ postseason and the righthander was back on the mound after 11 days of rest.
In the end the Mets bullpen, perhaps taxed again after consecutive extra inning games, was responsible for a three-run Red Sox tenth. So Collins, who has been here before was asked about Harvey being lifted:
“In postseason it’s a different story,” said Collins. And that is the entire scope of the situation that has been the agenda for Harvey and the Mets. An innings limit for Harvey that has been questioned is now in place. And with Dog Days of August coming to an end, a healthy Harvey is the agenda.
The Mets are now playing for the postseason, and though the bullpen could not keep the Red Sox off the board there was no harm done.The Nationals lost again which kept New York 6-½ games in the lead. Still with a Dodgers loss, they remain a game better in the race for a possible best record and home field advantage.
That is in the event the two teams meet in a best of five divisional series, and that is looking ahead. And if the Mets are heading where it appears they will be in October, Harvey, coming off Tommy John Surgery needs to be sharp and the arm has to be healthy.
So Collins had the proper response even though the Mets fan base was not content with the decision. More so, Harvey once again went along with the plan because the Mets for the first time in nine years are eying postseason baseball in October.
“Although I wanted to stay out there it was ultimately his call,” Harvey said about the decision made by Collins. “”Hopefully those innings saved can keep us playing in October.”
And there is every reason to believe that the Mets will be playing baseball in October, unless of course there is a collapse that Mets’ fans always have in the back of their mind. Collins also said that Harvey will not be skipped in the rotation again, however that his innings would be limited in remaining starts if the pitch count is high.
Harvey said his stuff was not sharp, and that was not attributed to the extra days off. It happens in late August and it will be more prevalent with a pitcher returning from the Tommy John procedure.
“It’s one of those things where you have some time off and you feel really good,” Harvey said. “Just finding a rhythm was a little tough. I wasn’t as fine as I’d like to be. But it felt like when I needed to make a pitch, I was able to do that.”
Overall, Harvey made the pitches in striking out eight and walking one. He has allowed two runs in his last five starts, and if the Mets had not left 14 on base, perhaps talking about lifting Harvey would never have been a question.
Add that to a bullpen that is obviously strained, which attributed to the Mets ending a seven game winning streak. Leaving men on base and Carlos Torres out of the pen, not doing the job, had the Citi Field crowd reflecting that this was the way these Mets played a good amount of their games before going on their offensive explosion this month.
Torres has also thrown his amount of innings out of the pen, and a large amount of pitches, He threw 30 the night before in the extra inning win down in Philadelphia, and 22 more in 0.2 of that extra inning. He was charged with three runs on four hits.
But there is never a season innings limit on the pitcher coming out of the pen, even with Torres who provides late inning relief. There was an inside the park home run, a single, double, and another single off Torres.
“ Obviously they hit me very hard but that’s the thing about baseball,” Torres said.” There is always that question though about the Harvey innings limit and the Mets have proved time and time again this season to overcome the adversity of a loss or two.
In the end, Harvey will not miss another start. But there will be times when he is not at his best and that goes for the entire bullpen as a whole.