The New York Mets may have lost a series finale game to their crosstown rival Yankees Sunday night at Citi Field, but the real winner was agent Scott Boras who won the first round battle of an innings limit pertaining to his client Matt Harvey. And there could be more of a battle ahead with the Mets and Boras if these Harvey rules proceed as planned.
For the moment the Mets are in control of their own destiny with a six game lead over the Washington Nationals with 13 games remaining and playing sub .500 teams with a schedule in their favor. The magic number to clinch the NL East remained at eight after a 11-2 loss to the Yankees, and chances are it will dwindle with the 60-90 Atlanta Braves and three games next for the Mets.
But the Harvey innings debate will continue because his five innings pitched, an infield hit and no runs allowed were outstanding. Harvey the competitor did not want to be lifted after throwing 77 pitches, and manager Terry Collins would have preferred to keep him on the mound with the Mets holding a 1-0 lead.
And nine pitches later, the Yankees got to the Mets bullpen and quickly had a five run sixth inning. So for round one of this Harvey innings limit, Scott Boras won the battle. Take it as a loss that the Mets can afford, however circumstances would be different if their lead over the Nationals was a game or two.
Or if this was a postseason game, where the Mets are expected to be next month, would Harvey and that precious arm that Boras deems as important to his assets, gone another two innings? That is a matter of discussion for another time and the outcome of another Harvey start will in all probability lead to more questions.
Certainly this has become a predicament for the manager who would rather be planning a possible postseason rotation. But the rules appear to have been implemented and it certainly seemed that Harvey was in control with a 97 mile fastball, a nasty changeup and all done on 12 days rest.
The team on the other side needed this win more than the Mets. Suddenly a three game series for the Yankees starting Monday night up in Toronto looms as the significant series of the season because the Toronto Blue Jays lead in the AL east has dwindled to 2-½ games. And the Yankees have their ace back, because CC Sabathia with a knee brace had his third respectable start tossing six innings of five hit ball and allowing one run.
But Boras also won this battle Sunday night, though the Yankees bats feasted on a Mets bullpen that did not have it because the Matt Harvey innings rules were in place. There is a perspective that Harvey would rather not have it this way, and of course every Mets fan in the house would not have it this way either.
In the end it is always about the well being of Matt Harvey and the Mets going with the plan. Boras is the winner as Harvey goes with the plan, and he has no say in the matter. Saying the wrong thing obviously goes against the wishes of Boras and if this was a boxing match, Boras right now would win by unanimous decision.
“My job is to get ready,” Harvey said. “Whenever they call me to pitch, I will be ready for that. Tonight I wanted to be out there more than anything. The last thing I want to do is not play and not pitch.”
Don’t bypass that this interleague rivalry had significant meaning again because over 130,000 fans attended the three games that set a Citi Field series record. The Yankees got a reprieve when Harvey left the game and getting around the question, the first preference for Collins was to allow Harvey to continue.
Collins is old school and got around the question. He does not agree with these Harvey rules, and has to go with the plan. Don’t forget this is a manager who at one time in previous tenures would have been more outspoken.
“You either adjust to it or you get out,” he said about the rules he needs to respect. “So I’m going to adjust to it. I might get out of here pretty soon, but I’m going to adjust to it for now.” Harvey had struck out seven Yankees in the five innings.
But the Boras battle made that preference go the other way. Errors by Daniel Murphy and David Wright also contributed to the Yankees big inning and Carlos Beltran, who has come up in big games for the Yankees had a two-run double off Hansel Robles that put his team in the lead, and a three-run Dustin Ackley home run also contributed to the damage.
Ackley and the Yankees were aware that Harvey was throwing well. “We couldn’t really string anything together,” Ackley said. “And yeah, when he (Harvey) did come out we got some guys on base. We knew that was a good chance to really make something happen and we just continued to roll pretty much the rest of the game and didn’t hold back at all.”
Harvey was repetitive and made his case. More than once he said, “I’m getting ready for every start.” But Boras had to hear Harvey’s plea as to why he stays prepared, and with 176 ⅔ innings he is close to tying a career high in innings pitched, but the postseason is what every position player and pitcher wants.
“The last thing I want to do is not play and not pitch especially in the postseason,” Harvey said. “That’s where everybody wants to play and everybody wants to pitch and that’s never changed for me one bit. That’s always been on my mind. I always want to be out there.”
Yes, Scott Boras won the first battle and the Mets lost a game because of the innings limit. But Boras may not have an answer to what the Collins said after the loss about how difficult it was to take Harvey out of the game after letting him bat in the fourth inning with a runner in scoring position.
“It was the perfect storm,” Collins said. “You couldn’t have set it up any worse than it was.” Round one for Scott Boras in this battle of the innings watch and the next one could be more interesting as the Mets try to reduce that magic number.
Comment Rich Mancuso: [email protected] [email protected] Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso