FIRST PITCH: Now this should be a very interesting Matt Harvey Day.
For the first time since the innings-cap hullabaloo exploded -- and potentially for the last time for a while -- Harvey (12-7, 2.60 ERA) pitches for the New York Mets. The innings-restricted ace opposes Washington Nationals right-hander Jordan Zimmermann (12-8, 3.38) on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.
General manager Sandy Alderson on Monday acknowledged Harvey would make fewer starts during the remainder of the regular season than the Mets originally planned. The team originally had four penciled in, including Tuesday.
Regardless of Harvey's availability, Alderson said, the Mets will stick with a six-man rotation because Noah Syndergaard's innings need to be conserved, too. So expect to see Logan Verrett subbing for Harvey at points down the stretch, including likely the next turn.
USA Today reported that the Mets' plan will have Harvey skipped once after Tuesday's start, then pitch again. Harvey also would pitch during the final series of the season, against the Nationals at Citi Field, if those games are meaningful. As for the postseason, the report suggested the Mets' plan is for one start per round and, potentially, no more than 60 pitches in any outing.
Responding to the USA Today report, Alderson told ESPN.com on Monday night: "Any plans we have for the rest of the regular season are tentative. We have not spent any time yet on a ‘playoff' plan. Nothing has been discussed in that regard."
Harvey sits at 166 1/3 innings. The most innings ever thrown in the first season back from Tommy John surgery belongs to John Lackey with the Boston Red Sox in 2013, according to ESPN Stats & Information -- 215 1/3 between the regular and postseason. The only other pitchers on that list to have exceeded 200 innings their first season back: Adam Wainwright (213 2/3 in 2012), Tommy John (207 in 1976) and Jake Westbrook (202 2/3 in 2010).
All of those pitchers were older than the 26-year-old Harvey and had exceeded 200 innings earlier in their careers. Of course, the Mets note, Harvey had 17 months between his operation and a return to games.
"I think Matt Harvey is going to step up and show everybody in New York, everybody in baseball, that he's as tough as the persona he puts on," manager Terry Collins said Monday. "I think [Tuesday] he's going to show everybody, ‘Look, I'm going to pitch. I'm going to pitch well. How much longer I'm going to pitch is undetermined at this time.' But he'll turn out tomorrow. … Matt Harvey is a competitor. As I told him the other day, ‘Look, the only way you're going to restore all the things you stand for is to walk out there on that mound and pitch like you can pitch. That's the only way you earn it. That's what got you here.'"
Captain David Wright, who spent four innings on the bench talking to Harvey on Sunday in Miami, said about their dialogue: "Private conversations remain private."
Still, Wright said, the innings flap has not created an issue in the clubhouse.
"It's not a distraction at all," Wright said. "We're talking about the Washington Nationals. There's nothing else to it. I think it's a much bigger story outside this clubhouse than it is in the clubhouse because nobody is talking about it. Quite frankly, we're going about our business.
"I could be wrong, but I don't think a lot of us follow, really, a lot of the things," Wright added. "I don't have social media. I don't check people's Twitters or Instagrams or anything. I don't really know the extent of everything that goes on all the time. But I think that guys in here, if they do check it and do know what's going on, they do a nice job of not letting it be known, because it's business as usual."
TUESDAY'S NEWS REPORTS:
Wright, relishing meaningful games in September, had a go-ahead RBI single in what became a three-run seventh and the Mets beat the Nationals, 8-5, on Labor Day. Yoenis Cespedes, albeit still a longshot for NL MVP, doubled twice and homered in the win. Erik Goeddel, Dario Alvarez and Hansel Robles combined to retire all 10 batters they faced after Carlos Torres was forced to depart with a left calf strain. Torres wore a boot postgame, but downplayed the severity of the injury. Jonathon Niese allowed five runs in an inning for the third straight start and was knocked out after 3 1/3 innings. The Mets opened a five-game lead over the Nats for first place in the National League East. Read game recaps in the Post, Daily News, Times, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com.
Read the latest news stories about the Harvey hullabaloo in the Post, Daily News, Washington Post, Times, Journal, Newsday, Record and at MLB.com and columns from Bob Klapisch in the Record, David Lennon in Newsday and Ken Rosenthal at Foxsports.com.
Verrett as well as Dilson Herrera and Johnny Monell were promoted to the Mets after Las Vegas completed its season Monday. There remains a chance the Mets add ex-Padre Tim Stauffer, who has bullpen experience, to offset Torres' injury. Dillon Gee and Vic Black were passed over. Both appear headed for free agency.
Read more from a giddy Wright from columnist Mike Vaccaro in the Post.
Read more on Torres' calf strain in the Post.
Read more on Cespedes' latest big game, and looming big payday, in the Post.
Lucas Duda (herniated disk) rejoined the Mets on Monday, but did not appear in the game. He had a two-day rehab assignment with Double-A Binghamton.
Mets first-round picks Brandon Nimmo (knee), Gavin Cecchini (hip) and Dominic Smith (shoulder) all are injured and may need to be examined by team doctors.
A day after getting eliminated from postseason contention, Las Vegas produced only two hits in a season-ending 5-0 loss to Tacoma. Outfielder Brock Peterson pitched three scoreless innings and earned the win in Binghamton's 8-6 victory against Altoona in 12 innings. The B-Mets open the playoffs on Wednesday. Corey Oswalt tossed six scoreless innings and playoff-bound Savannah won its regular-season finale, 4-2, against Greenville. Brooklyn concluded its season with a 5-2 loss to Staten Island. Read the full minor league recap here.
BIRTHDAYS: Bobby Parnell turns 31. ... Don Aase is 61.
TWEET OF THE DAY:
YOU'RE UP: Will Harvey dominate the Nationals on Tuesday?