Matt Harvey not worried about sharpness despite three extra days' rest
In his last start, more than a week ago now, Matt Harvey set a career high by throwing 121 pitches. The following day, the Mets phenom insisted he felt fine, and manager Terry Collins even considered reshuffling his rotation so Harvey could take his next turn on regular rest.
Collins ultimately stuck to his original plan and planned on Harvey pitching Sunday with one extra day to recover. But the manager didn't bank on a rainstorm Saturday that left his plans soaked. As a result, when Harvey pitches Tuesday night against the White Sox, it will be his first outing since April 29.
It comes on an extra three days' rest, raising concerns about whether the long layoff will take a toll on his sharpness.
"The extra two days, three days? I don't like it," Collins said, "but that's what it is."
By a quirk in the schedule, the Mets had scheduled days off Thursday and Monday. Add in Saturday's rainout in Atlanta, and they have played only twice in the last five days.
"It's kind of an unfortunate thing that happens, but you've got to deal with it," Harvey said. "It's an adjustment. It's definitely not the first time I've gone seven or eight days without pitching."
Harvey (4-0, 1.56 ERA) needed only to look back to last season, when the Mets used a modified six-man rotation that created extra rest days for the team's starters. The strategy also helped keep the righthander beneath his innings limit.
Harvey made each of his last six starts on at least one extra day of rest, finishing 2-2 with a 2.19 ERA in that span. He struck out 44 and walked 14 in 37 innings.
"I didn't feel like I had any trouble with command or anything like that," Harvey said. "My body feels extra rested and extra good, and that's obviously something to take into consideration. But in my mind, it's kind of zoning out the fact that I do have a week off, trying to pretend I've only had four days and go from there. I'm not worried."
As much as Harvey played down the effect of too much rest, the Mets caught an extended look at the consequences Sunday, when Jonathon Niese took a beating against the Braves.
Pitching on an extra two days' rest, the lefthander tied his career high of six walks. Niese came out for the fifth inning and yielded a single, a wild pitch and two walks before being relieved.
"All you're seeing is the result of a guy who's had too much rest and is used to being out there more often," Collins said after the game.
Harvey, however, enjoyed one critical advantage that Niese did not. Because the rainout took place Saturday, Harvey had enough advance notice about his schedule change to squeeze in a throwing session at Turner Field on Sunday. He worked through an abbreviated bullpen -- what the Mets call a "touch and feel" session -- during which he threw enough pitches just to stay sharp.
It will have to be enough.
"I'm not worried about it," Harvey said. "It's been done before and it's something we're going to have to adjust to."
Notes & quotes: The Mets will make up Saturday's rainout against the Braves with a split doubleheader June 18. The makeup game will be at 1:10 p.m. The Mets will play five games in four days during their next visit to Atlanta . . . Former Met Edgardo Alfonzo will help judge entrants at the team's annual Banner Day on Saturday.