DENVER - The moment everyone has obsessed about since spring training finally will arrive Sunday when the Mets skip Matt Harvey's turn in the rotation and use Logan Verrett for the series finale against the Rockies.
Now the Mets have to hope it's a decision they don't ultimately regret.
Terry Collins made the expected announcement before Friday night's game at Coors Field. It didn't come with the usual drama associated with the Mets' ongoing soap opera involving innings limits, maybe because it had been anticipated for so long, and the suspected date trickled out this week.
More than anything, Collins just sounded relieved. And he was probably speaking for the entire organization, which has sweated the Harvey restrictions since February.
"I'm tired of talking about it," Collins said. "I really am. I know we had to do it. So I'm glad it's going to be finished."
"We're going to move on and grind it out."
The timing is open to some debate, with the Mets choosing to go with Verrett now rather than maybe wait for Steven Matz to finish his rehab stint. But Matz is likely to need two more minor-league starts, the next one at Double-A Binghamton, and the Mets wanted to skip Harvey before September. Harvey will make his next start Friday against Boston at Citi Field.
"We've looked at it every which way we could," Collins said. "If we're going to do it, let's do it right now. Let's get it over with."
That also seemed fine with Harvey, who has bristled in the past when the Mets have taken action to curtail his innings. They twice tried a six-man rotation earlier this season, but made it through only one turn each time -- once because of pushback from the pitchers and the other when Matz suffered a torn lat muscle.
This late in August, however, there is a sense of inevitability. Harvey is supposed to be capped at roughly 190 innings for the regular season, and he's already up to 154 through 23 starts. As badly as Harvey wants to take the ball, he can't argue with the numbers, even if there is insufficient data as to how much the innings limit will prevent a further injury in returning from Tommy John surgery.
"I think the last thing you want to do is keep putting it off or waiting to hear when it's going to happen," Harvey said. "Obviously, the innings are adding up and we've been discussing that the whole time. I told them I was completely on board with whatever they wanted to do. I just kind of preferred that it would be sooner rather than later."
Both Collins and Harvey also suggested that Sunday may not be such a bad occasion for a breather. The manager mentioned the word "fatigue" when describing Harvey's recent outings, but the ace wouldn't go quite that far. Harvey has a 0.43 ERA in three starts this month and has held opponents to a .176 batting average. Maybe Collins was referring to Harvey going only six innings in last Sunday's start.
"I think it's a good time," Harvey said. "A little bit of rest never hurts anybody."
If the Rockies beat up Verrett, that might not be true for the Mets.