Matt Harvey might be promoted to starting rotation

Mets prospect Matt Harvey delivers a pitch for

Mets prospect Matt Harvey delivers a pitch for the St. Lucie Mets. (May 21, 2011) (Credit: Preston Mack)

ATLANTA -- It looks as if Matt Harvey's last hurdle to the majors may come Monday at Coca-Cola Field.

If Harvey handles Triple-A Toledo, one of the worst-hitting teams in the International League, the Mets are poised to promote him for Saturday's start against the Dodgers at Citi Field.

"We might get the reports back that he's the guy," Mets manager Terry Collins said. "That he's ready."

With Monday's off day, and Chris Young prepared to take his scheduled turn after Friday's 71-pitch outing, the Mets won't need a fifth starter until Saturday. That leaves Harvey and Miguel Batista vying for the spot -- and Batista didn't inspire much confidence Friday with four walks in 11/3 innings.

On the other hand, Harvey is 7-4 with a 3.39 ERA in 18 starts for Buffalo, and the only concern is his infrequent use of secondary pitches. The Mets think Harvey has been a bit too reliant on his mid-90s fastball, which has allowed him to dominate at times but could make him vulnerable in the majors.

In his last five starts, Harvey has a 2.32 ERA with 38 strikeouts and nine walks in 31 innings. By comparison, Mike Pelfrey made a total of 18 minor- league starts at three different levels in the same season before his major-league debut.

In that time, Pelfrey had a combined 2.43 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 961/3 innings. Once with the Mets, he went 2-1 with a 5.48 ERA in four starts, with 13 strikeouts and 12 walks in 211/3 innings. Collins would like to see more than that from Harvey, which is why there is a concern about moving him up too fast.

"We're trying to get them developed to be ready in the big leagues," Collins said, "not to be successful in the International League. I'm not sure I've seen too many pitchers at the major-league level who use one pitch as a starting pitcher."

With Harvey on the verge of joining the rotation, the Mets soon could turn their attention to Zack Wheeler, who will be bumped up to Triple-A Buffalo in the near future. Wheeler is 8-4 with a 2.62 ERA in 15 starts for Double-A Binghamton, and the reports have been glowing.

"I've heard wonderful things about him," Collins said. "He's not out of the mix. Let me tell you something -- right now, in our organization, if you've got talent and you show you get people out, your name is going to be on the list."

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