Steven Matz, with an eye toward an early September return, is scheduled to make his first rehab start Saturday for Class A St. Lucie. Matz hasn't pitched in a game of any kind since his six-inning, eight-strikeout win over the Dodgers on July 5. He wound up on the disabled list the next day because of a lat muscle tear.
"There's a lot of time between now and Saturday, so we'll see what happens," Sandy Alderson said before Monday night's game against the Rockies. "But that's the plan currently."
That plan calls for Matz to throw about 25 pitches. If he remains on a five-day schedule, that puts him on target to return to the Mets the first week of September, maybe during the 10-day road trip that includes Miami, Washington and Atlanta.
Matz was 2-0 with a 1.32 ERA before the injury, so his return would be an obvious boost for the stretch run. It also could allow the Mets to go back to a six-man rotation to cut back on their starting pitchers' escalating workload.
Alderson suggested the Mets might need a spot start or two -- probably from Logan Verrett -- before the end of August in order to bank some innings for the rotation. But after making the innings limits such a priority earlier in the season, he backed off some Monday when talking about the playoff chase.
"It causes us to reassess where we are because we expect that the games will be meaningful as we get closer to the end of the season," Alderson said. "Are we reassessing? Maybe at the margins. But we still understand that we've got to keep a close eye on it, at least the overall volume for a couple of the guys."
The usual bump for young pitchers is adding 30 to 40 innings each season. Jacob deGrom already is at 1392/3 innings after throwing 1401/3 last year. Matt Harvey figured to be on a 195-inning limit after returning from Tommy John surgery, and he's sitting at 140. Noah Syndergaard, coming off 133 innings last season, is at 982/3.
More relief in sight?
The Mets acquired lefthander Eric O'Flaherty from the A's last week, but Alderson still could look for bullpen pieces before Aug. 31, the deadline for new players to be eligible for the playoff roster. But the general manager didn't make it sound like a priority. Said Alderson, "I'm not sure we'll see any upgrades there from outside the organization."