The preservation of Matt Harvey is going to be an ongoing discussion this season for the Mets, who will be looking to limit his pitches and innings whenever possible in his return from Tommy John surgery.

But the Mets also need to think big picture, and a source said Sunday the plan is for Harvey to get at least 30 starts but no more than 32 during the regular season -- at least two fewer than an otherwise healthy pitcher would get.

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The next phase of that plan goes into effect this week when the Mets temporarily switch to a six-man rotation and call up Rafael Montero to start Tuesday in Miami. The Mets will go back to five again but intend to use a sixth starter periodically from that point forward to give Harvey extra rest on occasion. The Mets also could get looks at Long Islander Steven Matz and Noah Syndergaard in these spot starts, barring injuries, of course.

Harvey is 4-0 with a 3.04 ERA through his first four starts and is averaging 6 2/3 innings, a pace that would put him at 200 innings for 30 starts or 213 innings for 32 by the end of the season. That's more than the 180 to 190 the Mets had budgeted for Harvey, so they'll need to get creative -- and why Harvey's complete-game push in Saturday's 8-2 rout of the Yankees won't be happening much from now on.