Just as things were rolling for the New York Mets, the team hit a snag when they got into a spat with super-agent Scott Broas over star pitcher Matt Harvey’s future.
During an interview with CBS’s Jon Heyman, Boras said that Harvey was given a doctor-imposed limit of 180 innings this season in his first year back from Tommy John surgery. With 166 innings already under his belt, that would mean Harvey had about two more starts left this season.
On the verge of their first playoff berth since 2006, Mets GM Sandy Alderson scoffed at the idea, saying the team may sit Harvey for a start to keep him fresh for the playoffs.
Alderson added that they weren’t going to let Boras decide how the team would use Harvey.
Harvey then stepped into the drama when he was non-committal about whether he would pitch in the playoffs, noting he generally agreed with Boras. The next day he announced via The Players Tribune that he would indeed pitch in the postseason.
According to Tim Rohan of the New York Times, the Mets met with Harvey to outline a plan to keep him active, albeit less involved in the rotation. It still needs to be approved by Boras and Harvey’s doctor, James Andrews, but the plan is for Harvey to make two or three more starts and then rest for the playoffs, where he’d surely pass the 180-innings limit.
Managing those innings will be difficult — as ESPN’s Adam Rubin notes, the remaining innings to Harvey’s limit (which could go as high as 185) simply won’t be enough for the regular season. This is all culminating at a dramatic time for the Mets. Harvey is set to pitch Tuesday night against the Nationals, the Mets divisional rivals who trail them by five games for first place.
After, Harvey would likely start in a series against the Yankees, and then one more time if needed in a season-concluding series against the Nationals again. Depending on how the Mets and Nationals fair over the remainder of the regular season, managing Harvey’s innings could become complicated as the Mets either limit him to shorter outings (four, five, or six innings) or skip him in the rotation, giving him more rest, but risking letting him become rusty as the postseason begins.
Mets manager Terry Collins seems less interested in saving him for the postseason, saying, “You can talk about the postseason all you want. You have to get there.”
The problem for Harvey is that at 26 years old, he will soon have the chance to cash in on a dominant career thus far. Harvey will be eligible for arbitration this offseason, so the risk of re-injuring his shoulder at a young age before his first big payday would understandably make him and his agent nervous.
Whether the Mets limit Harvey or simply rest him, there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution. Resting Harvey could create a slip-up in a top-heavy Mets rotation, creating the possibility that they will need him in the final series against the Nationals. It could also make him rusty heading into the postseason.
Starting him three times in limited innings almost surely means he’ll go past his innings limit this season and into the postseason. While that’s good for both sides now, it could have an impact further down the road.
Unfortunately for the Mets, this is a dark cloud hanging over them during their most intriguing, exciting season in a decade.
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