The Mets will manage Matt Harvey's workload as the season goes long, with the hopes that should the Mets qualify for the postseason, their electrifying ace will have enough innings left to contribute in October.
"We still haven't decided exactly how we'll approach it but I kind of laid out the concepts for him and he seems to be in total agreement," general manager Sandy Alderson said Tuesday. "I think the way we'll approach it is we'll come up with a soft number that we think is warranted for his regular season."
The Mets will explore various options for keeping Harvey away from a Stephen Strasburg-like shutdown. In 2012, the Nationals phenom did not pitch in the playoffs because he was shut down in September under limits imposed following Tommy John surgery.
Strasburg was just 12 months removed from surgery when he returned. By Opening Day, Harvey will be almost 18 months removed from the procedure.
Said Alderson: "For me, he's in the rotation starting the first week, whether he pitches the first, second or third game, whatever that is."
Alderson ruled out a six-man rotation. But the Mets will explore skipping some of Harvey's turns in the rotation and bridging the gap by turning to the team's collection of young starters to make spot starts.
The Mets could also manipulate the rotation to give Harvey extra rest between starts, though such a solution could potentially impact the schedules of other pitchers in the rotation.
Either way, the Mets should be well positioned to accommodate Harvey, who went 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA in 178 1/3 innings before his injury in 2013. Alderson said both Zack Wheeler and Jacob deGrom should be free to eclipse 200 innings next year.
The Mets also have veterans Jon Niese, Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee in addition to youngsters such as Noah Syndergaard and Rafael Montero.
Another alternative for Harvey would have been to delay the start of his season until May 1. But Alderson said it "doesn't make much sense" to go that route given the Mets' pitching depth, giving the team the ability to manage Harvey's innings as they come.
Notes & quotes: The Mets hope for an upgrade at shortstop over Wilmer Flores. But Alderson said that the free agent and trade markets don't hold any easy answers that would "check all the boxes." . . . Alderson said he prefers to address the Mets' glut of starting pitching before spring training . . . The Mets have discussed bringing back 36-year-old reliever Buddy Carlyle, who had a 1.45 ERA in 27 appearances. The Mets will likely also be in the market for a second lefty to help out Josh Edgin in the bullpen . . . A new assistant hitting coach hire is expected next week.
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