Matt Harvey ready for ace battle

DENVER -- Ace versus ace. Future versus future.

And Matt Harvey is not downplaying his scheduled matchup with Stephen Strasburg on Friday night at Citi Field, as the New York Mets open a series against the Washington Nationals.

"Obviously I'm still new to all this stuff," Harvey said. "I think I read an article about Dwight Gooden's Friday nights [at Shea Stadium]. It's an exciting time. I'm looking forward to it. I know the extra adrenaline is going to be there. It's going to be one of those things where you have to tone down."

Harvey (3-0, 0.82 ERA) is the reigning NL Player of the Week after taking a no-hit bid two outs into the seventh inning against the Minnesota Twins on Saturday at Target Field. Through three starts, he has limited opponents to six hits and six walks while striking out 25 in 22 innings.

Harvey's ERA ranks fourth in the league, trailing only Jake Westbrook (0.00), Paul Maholm (0.00) and Carlos Villanueva (0.64).

"I obviously appreciate all the hype and stuff like that, but that only comes with being prepared and being ready for each start," Harvey said. "Like I've said, the initial success is only going to mean anything if we continue that for the next couple of months. We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. I'm looking forward to Friday in particular."

Harvey met Strasburg at a Newport Beach, Calif., facility while Strasburg was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery because both are represented by agent Scott Boras.

The exchange, though, was limited to a quick, "'Hi. How are you doing? Nice to meet you,'" according to Harvey.

"We're both young guys," Harvey said. "I don't necessarily want to be like anybody else who I'm pitching against. I want to be my own guy. I want to be an individual.

"Obviously it's not him and anybody. He's one of the best in the game."

On Friday, Harvey will be bidding to become the fourth pitcher in franchise history to limit his opponents to one run or fewer in each of his first four starts of a season. The others: Rick Reed (2000), Frank Viola (1991) and Tom Seaver (1973).

"It's our first game back from a long road trip, and the Nationals are a good-hitting lineup," Harvey said. "And then you've got Strasburg on the mound on Friday night. So it's going to be fun. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

As for being named the NL Player of the Week, Harvey said: "It was something I've never done before. Hopefully it's not the last time that I do that. It's kind of like one of those things where you have a good start, the next day you have to forget about it and move on. There's a lot more weeks in the season than one successful one. This week we've got the Nationals coming in, and that's a tough task at hand. I'm looking forward to it and excited for it."

Because of three postponed games in a four-day stretch, Mets manager Terry Collins could have kept his rotation in order and pushed Harvey back to later in the series. But Collins opted to keep his primary pitchers on their preplanned days -- Jonathon Niese on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field, then Harvey versus Strasburg in Queens on Friday.

"If we back up Jon, that means we back up Matt," Collins said. "And I'm not saying they're going to pitch great. But I know one thing: You start disrupting your starting rotation, trying to slip in guys here and moving guys back ... I just don't think that's what you should do to your main guys."