NEW YORK -- Once left-handed prospect Steven Matz is formally promoted from Triple-A Las Vegas to make his major league debut on Sunday against the Cincinnati Reds, the New York Mets will implement a strict six-man rotation for the "foreseeable future," general manager Sandy Alderson said Friday.
Alderson said the Mets had to implement the expanded rotation before July 1 in order for it to shave enough innings to keep pitchers under their targeted goals for the season.
The GM suggested that it would defeat the primary purpose of the six-man rotation -- conserving innings -- if the club were to skip starts when team off-days provide an extra day of rest.
"We have to be fairly strict and disciplined about this, because we could get to the end of the season and some of our guys simply won't have any capacity left in our reasonable judgment," Alderson said.
The Mets particularly do not want Matt Harvey to exceed 190 to 195 regular-season innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
"If we were to continue with a five-man rotation, given the fact that he's pitched great -- he’s pitched seven innings pretty regularly -- those numbers get exceedingly high," Alderson said.
Alderson added that Jacob deGrom is not a major concern because he logged 179 innings last season. Still, the GM noted, deGrom did have a hiccup with shoulder stiffness last season.
Alderson suggested that Noah Syndergaard ought not go more than 35 to 40 innings over last year's total of 137.
"You're talking about well below 200 innings," the GM said.
Matz actually has more flexibility than Syndgeraard because he logged 157 innings last season while pitching into September due to the Eastern League playoffs.
"In the case of two -- maybe three -- of our starters, we have some serious concerns about the overall volume," Alderson said. "As I've said before, there's no science to this. But common sense tell us that there are certain levels of innings over the course of a season -- whether it's following a Tommy John surgery or just based on what a pitcher has done the prior season. It makes sense for us to have a general awareness of where those innings totals are going.
"So the combination of wanting to get Steven into the rotation and, primarily, dealing with some of the other limitations we face with some of our other starters, we're going to go to a six-man rotation. I expect that will continue for a period of time and then we'll see where it goes."
When the Mets had tried this early in the month with Dillon Gee, the pitchers groused about irregular work schedules. It quickly was abandoned.
Still, Alderson and manager Terry Collins suggested the pitchers are now on board.
"I think they understand it's in their interest, for the most part, as well as the team itself," Alderson said.