We're not saying this because Nieve gave up back-to-back home runs in the eighth inning last night. If he had pitched a 1-2-3 inning, we still would say it.

Nieve has pitched in 17 of the Mets' first 27 games. He had pitched two days in a row, including two innings on Monday, when Manuel called him in to Tuesday' s game to protect a 4-2 lead.

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Now, fatigue might not be the reason he gave up the two home runs. He was throwing 95 miles per hour. But this isn't about Tuesday. This is about not abusing a reliever so you can have him for the whole season.

What makes it worse, IOHO, is Jenrry Mejia could have easily started the eighth. He pitched a 1-2-3 seventh and looked good doing it. Why not see if the kid can handle two innings? And if he can't, you use Feliciano and K-Rod to finish things up. And then you don't need Rod Barajas' ninth-inning home run to salvage what would have been a very tough game to lose.

Joe Torre was famous for burning out his relievers and it worked out OK for him. Manuel has never had that reputation. But if Nieve is less effective or injured late in the season, remember this Tuesday game in Cincinnati.