New six-man rotation will help Matt Harvey, though not necessarily Jenrry Mejia

Jenrry Mejia of the Mets looks on from Jenrry Mejia of the Mets looks on from the dugout during a game against the Atlanta Braves. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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WASHINGTON - The Mets expect Matt Harvey to make only 10 more starts this season. But with the team going to a six-man rotation, manager Terry Collins said Harvey should be able to avoid getting shut down early, as he was last season.

"We should be able to spread those innings out to let him go out and pitch and be OK," Collins said Saturday.

Righthander Jenrry Mejia will make at least one more appearance as the sixth starter, but Collins did not commit to anything more.

"It's too early to determine how far we're going to go out with it," he said. "It all depends what happens here, my guess, in the next two or three weeks."

The rotation might shift again if Jonathon Niese continues to make progress in his bid to return. Niese made his first rehab appearance after suffering a small tear in his rotator cuff. Facing Gulf Coast League hitters, he allowed four runs (two earned) and three hits in two innings.

Before the Mets consider bringing him back, Niese, who has been on the disabled list since June 21, must show that he's capable of throwing 100 pitches in a game. "We've got to get him up to where there's endurance there," Collins said. "The one thing we don't need is to have . . . a pitcher come in here right now this time of year and be a five-inning guy."

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Extra bases

Righthander Jeurys Familia has an outside chance of pitching before the end of the season. He underwent surgery in June to remove bone spurs from his right elbow and already has resumed throwing . . . Catcher Travis d'Arnaud (foot fracture) and leftfielder Lucas Duda (intercostal strain) played full games during minor-league rehab appearances with the Mets' Gulf Coast team . . . The addition of Mejia means the Mets will play with a four-man bench that no longer has a lefty hitter after demotion of Kirk Nieuwenhuis.

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